West Memphis offering city employees 200 reasons to get vaccinated

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Get the shot, get $200. That’s the incentive the city of West Memphis is offering to city employees.

The mayor says part of the reason to offer the money was to reward those who are vaccinated and incentivize those still on the fence.

Patricia Lane, Senior Deputy City Clerk with the city of West Memphis, said she was thrilled when she learned she would get $200 for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“To not only protect ourselves, our families but the citizens that we come in contact with every day,” Lane said.

West Memphis mayor Marco McClendon and the city council signed off on the payments. If everyone gets the shot, that’s around 400 city employees, for a total of $80,000.

McClendon says the money doesn’t come from any direct West Memphis funds. 

“This money is coming from the Rescue Act funds that we have got from the federal government, and they’re encouraging us to do things like this,” McClendon said.

For those who might question how that money is spent, McClendon had a question:

“Would you rather use that to encourage people to be vaccinated, or would you rather for them not to be vaccinated, and when our sanitation department gets sick from, let’s say, the Delta variant and can’t pick up your trash for two weeks or you need the police and they can’t come because they’re all out because they’re sick?”

He says early in the pandemic before the vaccine was available they saw the virus affect staffing and city services.

West Memphis has already provided vaccine clinics for employees. While numbers for how many employees are unvaccinated wasn’t available, McClendon says he’s talked to staff — once uneasy — who now plan to get vaccinated. 

“You have to make people feel comfortable,” he said. “I’ve been vaccinated. I let them know, I’m fine. You know one thing I have to say is that, there’s zero people that I can name that have died from the vaccine. Whereas there are 700,000 people that have died from COVID. I think COVID is what you need to be worried about.”

Lane believes this incentive will make a difference.

” I am excited to see this going forward and more people getting vaccinated so we can get back to a sense of normalcy,” she said.

The mayor hopes this plan will encourage other businesses and governments to offer similar incentives.

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