Employees of Upper Saucon Township who may be anxious about receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine now have 200 more reasons to calmly roll up their sleeves.
At their Jan. 25 meeting, township supervisors unanimously approved a $200 vaccine incentive as part of a new program for township employees and officials. Supervisors weighed the potential harm COVID-19 poses to the health and safety of the community against the potential cost of providing incentives in approving the program.
The federal government in December authorized emergency use of two different vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which all township employees and officials are now–or soon will be–qualified to receive.
“Police officers are considered first responders; other municipal workers are considered essential workers,” said township manager Thomas Beil. “Under the state’s current phasing plan, first responders are eligible to get the vaccine right now; essential workers are eligible in the next phase.”
Beil said township police officers received their first vaccinations in mid-January.
All township employees are responsible for making their own appointments with a vaccine provider.
Board chairman Brian Farrell said the board is aware that individuals may hesitate to be vaccinated for a variety of reasons, and the board is unaware of any government COVID-19 vaccination mandate, making an incentive program potentially helpful.
Beil said that as of Monday, two township employees had informed him “they have no desire to get the vaccine.”
“Employees are allowed to get vaccinated during work hours without having to use paid time off,” he added. “If an employee has a negative reaction to the vaccine, they will be allowed to use available sick time.”
Any paid incentives will be considered part of an employee’s income, subject to payroll taxes and paid to the employee during the next available pay period.
The incentive program is scheduled to end in late May unless it is extended by the township manager or if vaccinations become mandatory by law.
Note: In Bethlehem, the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley and St. Luke’s University Health Network are partnering to offer a free vaccine clinic this Friday, Feb. 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to residents 65 and older and augment a nationwide objective to vaccinate more persons of color. Appointments are required. Click here for more information.