DeKalb considers offering employees $500 to get COVID-19, flu vaccines

DeKalb County may offer $500 to government employees who get — or have already gotten — the COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

County CEO Michael Thurmond unveiled the proposal during a Tuesday morning meeting of the Board of Commissioners. If approved by commissioners in the coming weeks, it would provide $300 to county employees who provide proof they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and another $200 if they receive a flu shot.

“I think we’ll be even more effective in protecting our workforce” by offering incentives for both types of vaccinations, Thurmond said.

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The DeKalb County government — which does not include the local school system — has roughly 6,000 employees. It was not immediately clear how many employees had already been vaccinated, but the incentive would be retroactive and available to those who have received shots in the past and well as those who do so in the future.

Proof of vaccination would need to be provided by Jan. 31, 2022.

A county spokesman said the plan is to allocate about $1.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccine incentives. Another $1.3 million from the county operating budget would cover the flu shot incentives.

The total of $3.2 million would be enough to provide incentives to all county employees.

“I think it’s a really smart and really positive agenda item,” Commissioner Ted Terry said during Tuesday morning’s meeting.

The proposal gained approval from a committee of the county commission later Tuesday afternoon and could receive a final vote as soon as next week.

While the new proposal marks the county’s first foray into specifically incentivizing employees to get inoculated, it has embraced the larger concept. During a series of special events that started in August, the county has given out a total of about 5,000 $100 prepaid debit cards to members of the public receiving vaccines.

As of Monday, about 53% of DeKalb County residents had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.