Some corporations are giving their employees incentives if they take the COVID-19 shots. Many executives say they're doing it to combat the misinformation about the vaccine.
An executive order recently issued by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. created an incentive program that puts $300 in the pocket of any employee who gets vaccinated. The order includes exemptions for those with medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent them from taking the shot.
Walmart officials say it is a personal choice whether to receive the vaccine, and they are not mandating it for their employees. But they are providing perks.
“We are encouraging associates to get the vaccine and educating about it, so they can make an informed decision,” said Courtney Paulson, Walmart global communications for corporate affairs.
More than 5,100 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies are offering the vaccine, as well as through special associate and community vaccination events.
“Customers and associates can make an appointment through the schedulers, or simply walk into the pharmacy to get their shot. Our hourly associates can be vaccinated while on the clock or receive two hours of paid time off to do so, whether at one of our locations or the location of their choice," said Paulson.
Walmart is also providing a $75 thank-you bonuses to hourly associates who are vaccinated, and three days of paid leave for those who experience adverse reactions to the shot.
Dan Mabery, vice president of University Relations for Northeastern State University, said NSU is not providing an incentive for those who get vaccinated.
According to Tahlequah Mayor Sue Catron, the city doesn’t offer an incentive for employees, either, but they are encouraged to consider getting one.
During a May 29 Saturday Forum on Facebook, Tahlequah Daily Press readers were asked what type of incentive would make it worthwhile to get the shot if they were reluctant, and if receiving an incentive would change their mind.
Felicia Little said she isn’t an anti-vaxxer, but she believes there is still too much of the unknown regarding the vaccine.
“I have had all my childhood vaccines and so have my children. Something that was developed quickly – the uncertainty outweighs the fear of the virus itself,” said Little.
She added that a strong immune system and being outside on a regular basis helps.
Stephanie Gilbert asked why there’s a need to "bribe" people to get vaccinated if they are supposed to be protected by the shot.
“No, I did not get it and [I] don’t plan to get it, and no amount of bribery will influence me to get it,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert added she is blessed with an amazing immune system, and she has never had the flu or received a flu shot.
“I think choosing what to put in your body should always be a personal choice,” she said.
District 3 County Commissioner Clif Hall said employees at the courthouse were placed in Tier 1 by the state health department.
“I think we were initially in Tier 3 and then we were put into Tier 2. The state put government entities into Tier 1 and we had about 70 employees who opted into getting it,” said Hall.
Hall said his wife had the virus before she was vaccinated, and she developed COVID-like symptoms for about 24 hours.
“When my wife got her shot after she tested positive for [the virus], 120 days later, she was eligible for the shot and she did experience COVID-19 symptoms,” said Hall.
Tahlequah Fire Chief Casey Baker got his vaccination during the beginning of the rollout when the uncertainty on the matter was strong.
“It was scary and there wasn’t much information out there at the time,” Baker said. “From my personal experience, it was nerve-racking, but I took it and the only [side effects] I had was my shoulder was sore from the shot. It was more like a flu shot but other than that, and I really didn’t have any other side effects.”
Dr. John Fell, doctor of osteopathy and local general practitioner, recommends the vaccine, as he’s seen no significant issues among those who have taken it.
“I feel like we are so close to getting past COVID-19 if we could all do our own little part,” Fell said.
Fell said he is aware there seems to be some confusion about the efficacy of the vaccine, and some patients believe the shot will cause them to become more sick than the virus itself.
“I’ve had a good percentage of my patients get the shot, but those who don’t [get one] tend to believe the virus is a hoax,” he said.
A common misconception about the vaccine are that it can affect a woman’s fertility. According to John Hopkins Medicine, the vaccine actually encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the coronavirus’s surface, and that teaches the immune system to fight the virus.
“Confusion arose when a false report surfaced on social media, saying the spike protein on this coronavirus was the same as another spike protein called syncitin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy,” JHM stated.
The two spike proteins are different, and getting the vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are trying to, or will, become pregnant.
Another misconception is that the vaccine will give the person the virus. Lisa Maragakis and Gabor Kelen, doctors of medicine for JHM, said the vaccine cannot give someone COVID-19.
They said the vaccine doesn’t contain the virus, and the protein that allows an immune system to fight the virus will not cause infections.