Acworth to give $200 gift cards to employees who get COVID-19 vaccine

201231-Decatur-The DeKalb County Board of Health administered their first batch of vaccines following a press conference Friday morning, Dec. 31, 2020 in Decatur. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
201231-Decatur-The DeKalb County Board of Health administered their first batch of vaccines following a press conference Friday morning, Dec. 31, 2020 in Decatur. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

The city of Acworth is rewarding its employees who get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those who choose to get the shot will receive a $200 gift certificate to Walmart, City Manager Bill Bulthuis said. The city has about 165 employees, all of whom qualify to receive the gift certificate, the city manager said. So far, only about 20 public safety personnel have either received or are scheduled to get the first shot of the vaccine, he said, describing that as a good number.

Acworth’s incentive is part of its wellness program, which encourages employees to take a greater interest in their physical and mental wellbeing. Bulthuis said the city was recognized in September by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as the healthiest employer in the medium company category. The program has been active for five years, with about 90% of employees participating, Bulthuis said.

“The incentive is just part of our continued philosophy to find ways to help employees be healthy,” he said.

Acworth is paying for the incentive from its budget.

Public health department personnel and their partners are currently vaccinating people who fall into Phase 1A+, which includes frontline healthcare workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, public safety personnel and people who are over the age of 65, as well as their caregivers. Bulthuis did not know the number of city employees currently eligible to get the shot.

The northwest Cobb city appears to be the only one in the county that’s offering its employees some form of incentive to get vaccinated. Smyrna hasn’t had any discussions about paying staff to get the vaccine and currently, “we do not believe that it will be necessary,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Bennett. About 35 public safety personnel have been vaccinated and several more are scheduled to get the jab, Bennett said.

Powder Springs City Manager Pam Conner said she will discuss Acworth’s initiative with the City Council Wednesday to see if they could do something similar. Several police officers and one staff member age 65 and older have been vaccinated. Four City Council members have either been vaccinated or are set to get the vaccine, Conner added.

Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton said about one-third of the city’s police and fire personnel have been vaccinated. An incentive plan has not been discussed with Marietta City Council members, Bruton said.

Cobb County spokesman Ross Cavitt said no incentive programs have been discussed at this time. Austell Mayor Ollie Clemons said the city has not explored the details of Acworth’s program, but will look at any “avenue of encouragement to see it may help” encourage employees to get the vaccine.

“Due to the vaccine being offered to public safety I have definitely encouraged them to take it and that is ongoing,” he said, adding he’s not sure how many of those employees have received the vaccine so far.

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