Coronavirus vaccine: Dollar General will pay its 157,000 employees to get inoculated

Adriana Belmonte
·Senior Editor

Dollar General (DG) will pay its employees across the U.S. to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The dollar store chain will pay the equivalent of four hours of their wages (salaries at Dollar General range from $9-$13 an hour) to any of its 157,000 workers to be inoculated against coronavirus. The company will also provide paid time off to any employee who suffers a severe reaction to the vaccine.

“We felt the right thing to do was to break down these barriers to vaccination,” CEO Todd Vasos told the Wall Street Journal. “We believe, as the vaccine continues to gain momentum, that we’ve got to get it to rural America.”

There are more than 17,000 Dollar General stores across 46 states. Many of the stores are concentrated in the South, particularly Texas, Georgia, and Florida.

A sign is seen outside a Dollar General store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. May 23, 2016.   REUTERS/Jim Young
A sign is seen outside a Dollar General store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. May 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

Vasos noted that he didn’t want employees to not be able to get vaccinated because of worries over missing work or struggling to obtain child care.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been relatively slow across the country — approximately 27.7 million doses have been distributed so far but only 9 million vaccines have actually been administered. States are being urged to broaden their access in order to speed things up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers steps to encourage vaccination in the workplace, including employers providing paid time off to workers wanting to get their shots. The CDC noted that doing so would help to reduce costs by reducing absences due to illness while offering convenience to employees.

Only 2.7% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
Only 2.7% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

A December 2020 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 71% of people said they would likely get the vaccine if it was determined to be safe and available for free for anyone that wanted it.

About 27% of the public is still hesitant — with the highest amounts among Black adults, Republicans, and those ages 30-49. Herd immunity will require an estimated 80-90% of the public being inoculated.

Though the vaccine isn’t mandatory for Dollar General employees. And while it is legal for employers to require workers to be inoculated, no major companies have gone that route so far.

"Legally every employer can require it – you don't have to be a high-risk employer to require it," Dorit Reiss, a law professor and expert on vaccine requirements at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, told USA Today. "On one hand, employers will be concerned about pushback from employees. On the other hand, they’ll also be concerned about COVID outbreaks that can be prevented."

Adriana is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

READ MORE:

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.