Companies offer gift cards to employees as incentive to get COVID-19 vaccines

APOPKA, Fla. — In the race to fight COVID-19, some companies are offering incentives for people to get vaccinated.

One company in Central Florida is prepared to dole out almost a half a million dollars for its employees who will get a vaccine by giving each of them some spending money.

Watch: Florida COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities improving, but hesitancy and gaps remain

Ed Conlan has owned the Beef O’Bradys in Apopka for almost two decades. His customers are loyal and his restaurant is thriving.

“Business is great, sales is above what we were last year prior to the pandemic,” Conlan said.

He shut down only once last year, because he and his employees got sick.

Given the crowds these days, he doesn’t want to have to close again, so he wants his employees to get vaccinated.

Watch: COVID vaccines may help “long-haulers” with lingering symptoms, doctors say

He said doing that will make it not only safer, it will be a better experience for everyone.

“I think eventually it’s going to lead to getting rid of the mask during service, which is very difficult eight hours a day, especially in the kitchen,” he said.

The corporate office believes in it so much that it is offering incentives to their employees to get the shot: $100 gift cards for Amazon, Target or Walmart.

Watch: CDC studies ‘breakthrough’ COVID cases among those who are fully vaccinated

Conlan estimates it will cost the company more than $400,000 if all their employees took part. But he said that is cheaper than having employees out sick.

Some companies are offering to pay employees while they go get their vaccine, but for servers, that doesn’t work, they need to be there because the bulk of their income comes from tips.

He thinks about 50% of the employees will get vaccinated, but he hopes this incentive will convince the other half.

Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler,

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.