SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Leaders in Savannah and Chatham County on Monday announced a voluntary vaccine incentive program for current employees to target the local infection rate.
Full-time and part-time employees are eligible for $500 if fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The program is available to workers of the city of Savannah, Chatham County, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) and Chatham Area Transit (CAT).
“We recognize how intertwined we are in our community and how important it is for us to get past where we are now to where we want to be. We recognize that we have to take big, bold and creative action to be able to move us to a point where we can enjoy life the way we used to,” said Mayor Van Johnson.
Chatham County Manager Lee Smith estimates roughly 10,000 individuals are eligible between the four organizations. Each employee must verify through a third-party system that they’ve received any of the three vaccines currently available to the public, and should receive more information from their human resources department in the coming days.
“You have to keep the jobs going,” said County Manager Lee Smith. “It’s not only to keep…Team Chatham safe but it’s also to keep their families safe, it’s to keep all of our clients and our customers safe.”
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 47% of residents in the county are considered fully vaccinated.
“We have to get our numbers above 50%, to be honest with you, I would love to have it in the 80% range,” Mayor Van Johnson said.
The $500 incentive is retroactive to those who have already received the vaccine as well. The program starts Monday and will run until Nov. 15.
As it stands, just over 50% of City of Savannah, Chatham County, SCCPSS and CAT employees have self-reported they’re fully vaccinated.
“If we can afford it, let’s do it,” says District 6 Alderman Kurtis Purtee. “Our city employees are valuable. Team Savannah, these folks are like family to some of us. And we want to be able to take care of those individuals.”
City leaders hope the cash incentive will entice people who were previously hesitant and hope the number of fully vaccinated people in Chatham County will start to rise as a result of the program.
Officials say the program is made possible through the federal American Rescue Plan.
President Joe Biden recently ordered the Department of Labor to require any company with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or require weekly COVID tests.