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Kansas City-area companies offer COVID-19 vaccine incentives

US and Missouri Flags in Blue Springs
Posted at 10:22 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 23:44:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Joe Biden encouraged states on Tuesday to offer incentives to boost the number of people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. But in the Kansas City metro, some businesses already have those incentives in place.

"We have people that haven't seen each other in a year, and this is their first lunch and they're getting one of them free," Joe Zwillenberg, owner of the Westport Flea Market, said.

During a news conference, Biden suggested ticket giveaways, in-stadium vaccination programs, merchandise discounts and "other creative ways" to make COVID-19 vaccinations "easier and more fun."

So far, more than 1,000 people have taken advantage of the Westport Flea Market's buy one-get one free burger deal since the promo started more than a month ago to motivate people to get inoculated.

"I thought it was just a great way to get people excited," Zwillenberg said.

Other companies, including Fike Corp. in Blue Springs, are generating ideas to persuade employees to roll up their sleeves.

"A lot of our employees also need to be able to travel to other locations in Europe and Canada," Chelesy Hanes, executive director of human resources at Fike Corp., said, "and so being able to get vaccinated allows us to be able to have those travel opportunities much sooner and be much safer doing this.

The fire protection supplier is offering employees an extra day of paid time off to get the shot or recover from it.

They're also tapping into an existing wellness program that's based off a point system.

"An additional 100 points when they submit that documentation," Hanes said, "and that 100 points can be cashed in for other incentives, like for example, a $50 gift card through our wellness program."

In Shawnee, city workers earn 50 points toward their wellness program when they get vaccinated.

"It's one small step on how we can encourage people who might be on the fence about getting it," Julie Breithaupt, communications manager for city of Shawnee, said. "Maybe that's an added bonus, and something they might choose to do."