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Incentive program boosts vaccination rates among City of Charleston employees

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A program to incentivize City of Charleston employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is working, according to Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin.

Amy Shuler Goodwin

“We are boots on the ground working day-to-day with our community, so I think it says a lot about them and them wanting to really be safe,” Goodwin said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

The mayor said nearly 80 percent of employees, including Charleston Police and Fire Departments, are fully vaccinated.

There were 582 out of 730 eligible workers took part in the program, which ran through Oct. 31.

Goodwin said some employees put off getting the vaccine until it was approved by the FDA.

“People wanted to wait, well now this incentive has bumped those numbers up,” she said.

In September, City Council approved giving $750 to every city employee for getting fully vaccinated. Employees received either a cash payment or a Health Savings Account contribution.

The money came from American Rescue Plan funding from the federal government.

Goodwin said the incentive money wasn’t the only motivation. She said one man in the city’s Street Department told her he got the vaccine to prevent further loss of life.

“He said I’m tired of watching my family members get really sick and that I’m tired of seeing stories on Facebook and social media of folks being attached to ventilators and being near death,” she said.

Elected officials did not qualify for the incentive program, according to state law.

The Charleston Fire Department held on-site vaccination clinics were they provided 71 COVID-19 booster shots and 136 flu shots to city employees in addition to first and second doses of the vaccine.

Goodwin said they’re still working to get the remaining 20 percent of eligible employees vaccinated.

“The conversation doesn’t need to be yelling and screaming,” she said. “I think what we need to do is understand why. Give me the reason.”

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