Most people probably would have assumed that after we developed a reasonably effective preventative treatment for COVID-19 the stories would die down. That has not been the case. In fact, one could argue that the vaccine has actually caused more disagreement than the virus itself. There are the two distinct camps of pro-COVID vaccine and anti-COVID vaccine, as well as people in the middle of that spectrum. Most large business tend to fall in the pro-COVID vaccine camp because they don’t want operations disrupted by people missing weeks of work. Schools are no exception.
The problem is there are a lot of people who REALLY don’t want to take it and some of those people work in schools, too.
We have already discussed the idea of schools forcing people to get the vaccine on Indy K12 before. While there is precedent for such mandates there are also plenty of loopholes and objections people have been able to exploit. There is also the risk that some teachers would quit … something understaffed schools can’t really afford at the moment. So, some of them have come up with a different course of action: Paying teachers to get the vaccine.
In many cases this seems to be a few hundred dollars, for example, $300 in Indianapolis Public Schools for example. At first glance this seems to be a happy compromise between the two factions, but some people have taken issue.
There are those that say schools can simply mandate a shot like places have always done and like the schools do themselves when it comes to kids. Why set the precedent that public health should require an incentive? This would make it even more difficult to get people to get proper care in the unfortunate event that something like this happened again.
The people who are against it are not exclusively anti-COVID vaccine, but they don’t believe that the schools should be taking such strong stances on matters of “personal health.” To those people, the financial incentive is simply giving certain teachers more money for an arbitrary reason. That kind of divide can create tension in a school.
Perhaps the biggest question on the table is around effectiveness: Do the financial incentives for vaccines even work? Admittedly this situation is new enough that there hasn’t exactly been a lot of data to look at, but at first glance, the answer appears to be no. According to a working paper out of USC and UCLA, people who are against getting the vaccine don’t appear to be influenced by financial incentives. If you buy that conclusion then that means schools are largely paying people to do something they were going to do anyway.
There really isn’t a wrong answer to this question. However, the way that COVID-19 continues to evolve almost necessitates that we agree on one anyway.
What do you think? Should schools pay teachers to get the vaccine?