Hospital allocates $517,000 toward vaccination bonuses, as health systems team to target hesitancy

As dozens of top hospital systems band together to boost vaccine adherence across the country, some executives are trying to get creative to encourage uptake among their own workforces.

Just this week, trustees with St. John’s Health approved a new “COVID safety” bonus program at the Jackson, Wyoming-based organization. With approval on Tuesday, they’re allocating $517,000 to give out $600 incentive payments to full-time team members who receive their shots before May 31.

“It’s really about a commitment to safety for our employees, safety for our patients,” Thom Kinney, St. John’s director of human resources, told trustees April 20, according to a local news outlet.

At a grander scale, meanwhile, 60 top hospitals and healthcare institutions launched a nationwide campaign this week to address vaccine hesitancy. Led by the Mayo and Cleveland clinics, the “Get the Vaccine to Save Lives” campaign is aimed at assuring the public that these drugs are safe and effective.

“We’re asking people to talk to their healthcare providers if they have questions and then get vaccinated,” Mayo Clinic President and CEO Gianrico Farrugia, MD, said in a statement. “The vaccine is our strongest asset to end the pandemic, and I urge everyone who is eligible to get whichever vaccine you’re first offered to save lives.”

Those involved are hoping to reach myriad communities that have been slow to schedule their shots, including racial and ethnic minorities and rural communities. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 17% of the public is still taking a wait-and-see, while 20% had zero plans to get vaccinated.

As of April 18, more than 209 million shots had been administered, with 50% of the adult population receiving at least one dose. Cleveland Clinic CEO Tom Mihaljevic, MD, stressed hospitals’ and their executives’ crucial role in addressing this issue and helping to reach that 75% mark.

“We all want to see a return to our pre-COVID routines, when we can once again gather safely with family and friends. To reach that goal, we must improve vaccination rates to achieve herd immunity,” he said in a statement.

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