Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has announced a plan to spend millions of dollars to give incentives to state workers who get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Kemp said Georgia would give the members of the State Health Plan and their dependents $150 gift cards or $450 in health care credits once they are fully vaccinated. The plan could cost the state $48 million to $146 million, depending on how much each worker receives.
It is unclear how the incentive plan will be funded. Kemp’s office did not respond Tuesday to multiple requests for details on the incentive plan.
“Vaccination remains our most effective tool against COVID-19, and I continue to urge all Georgians who have not done so yet to talk to a medical professional about getting vaccinated,” Kemp said Monday during a news briefing.
Kemp said 325,000 State Health Plan members are eligible for the incentives, which would include those who were previously vaccinated against the virus. Members can use the credits for copayments and coinsurance. State workers who are part of the State Health Plan have until Nov. 30 to qualify for the funds.
Kemp made sure workers have the time to get the vaccine shots. He ordered all states offices closed Friday to encourage state workers to get vaccinated.
Kemp’s incentive plan comes as Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said the state had the highest number of weekly outbreaks (170 outbreaks) ever during the pandemic. Toomey said all of the state’s 159 counties are at high transmission levels.
Kemp also said he would direct $4.5 million to the Georgia Coordinating Center (GCC), bringing the total allocation to $6 million this year to support the state’s COVID-19 efforts. The center coordinates the use of emergency rooms in emergency departments in the metro Atlanta area. Kemp said the additional funding would help the center hire more staff, improve technology and infrastructure and provide faster service.
“The GCC has been very effective in aircraft traffic controlling, if you will, by ensuring that we are utilizing all of our hospitals and [Emergency Management Services] resources effectively in our fight against COVID 19,” Kemp said. “They have done remarkable work and have certainly saved lives.”
As of Tuesday, 86.8% of the inpatient hospital beds in Georgia are in use, and 94.5% of Georgia’s ICU beds are occupied.
Kemp said Aug. 16 the state would spend $125 million to expand hospital staff and increase hospital capacity, bringing total spending on additional hospital staffing to $625 million.
This article was originally posted on Georgia to spend millions on COVID vaccine incentive for state workers