The quasi-public corporation told Fox Business how it will reward workers who willingly take a COVID-19 jab. Amtrak employees will be granted excused absences to get the vaccine and be paid an allowance worth two hours of their daily rate. But workers need to present documentation that they indeed received the vaccine before they can avail of these perks.
In addition, Amtrak will offer up to two days of excused absences and protected pay to any employee who experiences side effects after vaccination. For employees unable to return to work beyond two days, the train operator says that it will continue offering them protected pay as long as "appropriate documentation to medical services" is submitted.
Prior to these incentives, Amtrak offered protected pay to its workers who contracted the Wuhan coronavirus and fell sick as a result.
"We believe the vaccine offers the best way to keep our employees safe and contribute to the wellness of local communities," Amtrak said. It told Fox Business in a separate written statement that it is "doing [its] best to ensure all employees have vaccine access while delivering a new standard of travel."
Since May 2020, Amtrak has mandated that travelers wear face masks and practice social distancing on both its trains and property. Two subsequent government orders bolstered these public health mandates.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order that went into effect Jan. 26. It mandated that travelers wear masks on all commercial travel – including trains, planes and buses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has subsequently required travelers to wear masks on all public transportation nationwide. The CDC's order, which became effective Feb. 1, will be enforced by federal, state and local law enforcement officials.
Amtrak's approach to vaccination seems to follow the old maxim "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Instead of penalizing those who choose not to undergo immunization, the quasi-public train operator instead incentivized voluntary vaccination. This would be a feasible strategy for some companies and states, which may require vaccination as a prerequisite to access workplaces and educational institutions. (Related: Fauci says forced coronavirus vaccination "on the table" as requirement for travel, education.)
The railway company's positive reinforcement approach contrasts that of Spain. The European country said it would put the names of people who refuse COVID-19 vaccinations on a list. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa told broadcaster La Sexta that the list of people who refused vaccinations will not be made public. Furthermore, he remarked that the roster will be "treated with the utmost respect for data protection."
"What will be done is a registry, which will be shared with our European partners, of those people who have been offered [the COVID-19 vaccine] and have simply rejected it.," Illa said.
Regardless of the approach used, the fact that many have suffered serious reactions from the Wuhan coronavirus vaccines cannot be denied. Current mass immunization programs are focused on vaccinating frontline medical workers and nursing home residents – but these priority sectors themselves suffered as a result of these jabs. No amount of incentivizing or penalizing can invalidate the dangers of these vaccines.
Visit Vaccines.news to read more news about mass vaccination efforts amid the ongoing pandemic.