DENVER (KDVR) — Citing low vaccination numbers, the Colorado Department of Corrections is now offering a $500 incentive to staff members who choose to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Corrections staff has been eligible for the vaccine since late 2020, but as of March 25, CDOC data shows only 40% of staff members have received both doses. An additional 4% of staff members have received their first dose, according to a spokesperson.
That means more than half of Colorado’s state prison workers have not received any COVID-19 vaccine, despite being eligible for months.
“In the beginning we heard a lot of specific fears that folks were struggling with,” said Hilary Glasgow. “Any time it comes to fear, it’s always about education.”
Glasgow is the executive director for CO WINS, the union representing Colorado correctional workers. She says the bonus will likely convince some who are on the fence to get the shot.
“We do know that, as more people have gotten the shot, a lot of people’s fears about the shot have been allayed, and they have gotten the shots themselves,” she said. “If it helps encourage people to get more educated and make those choices about getting the vaccine, yes, we’re for that.”
Glasgow said this is the first situation she’s heard of involving a bonus for getting vaccinated.
In a statement, a CDOC spokesperson said: “It is important for our staff to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves, their co-workers, their families, their communities and the people in our custody. Given that, the CDOC is providing a one-time $500 incentive to staff who choose to get the vaccine.”
Currently, there are active COVID-19 outbreaks at seven different state prisons: Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility, Bent County Correctional Facility, Buena Vista Correctional Complex, Centennial Correctional Facility, Colorado State Penitentiary, Crowley County Correctional Facility and San Carlos Correctional Facility.
Staff members who have a medical or religious exemption will also still be eligible for the incentive, according to the CDOC.
That could mean a total payout of more than $3 million if all 6,211 employees get vaccinated. The CDOC would not comment on where exactly that money would come from.