Why Utah is asking businesses to incentivize COVID-19 vaccines for their employees

Registered nurse Jessica Hack prepares a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson is asking businesses to provide incentives, ranging from paid time off to recover from symptoms to gift cards and cash benefits, for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The push to get more Utahns vaccinated follows the state’s goal of 70% of adults being vaccinated by July 4, parroting President Joe Biden’s holiday vaccination target.

“We have to have something to work towards,” said Henderson at a press briefing on Thursday. “So, we are making the push. We can do better. We must do better.”

The state legislature has previously nixed incentives for people to get COVID-19 vaccines, breaking the mold from other state programs. A massive appropriations bill passed in a mid-May special session explicitly states that the $1.6 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds accepted will not be used to provide “financial incentives, awards, drawings or prizes, or any similar incentive to anyone for receiving a vaccination.”

Lotteries and other state incentives carry the risk that the public will expect similar

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