Manjimup shire staff to get cash payment if they get two doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Manjimup shire staff will be able to claim a payment of up to $500 if they can prove vaccination.  (ABC South West: Anthony Pancia)

A local government in regional Western Australia will provide staff who can prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a one-off cash payment.

Located 300 kilometres south of Perth, the Shire of Manjimup has recorded almost no cases of COVID-19, but shire CEO Andrew Campbell said it was inevitable that the virus was on its way.

To encourage staff to get vaccinated the council will offer a one-off payment of between $300 and $500 to staff who can prove they are fully vaccinated before the first of February 2022.

It will cost the shire up to $60,000.

The amount will be determined by the staff member's employment tenure and the program will be non-compulsory and opt-in.

It follows a range of Australian businesses that are providing incentives to their workforce to get the jab, including Qantas and a range of abattoirs

Shire CEO Andrew Campbell said he provided the incentive because he was concerned about levels of complacency about coronavirus within the rural community.

"To be perfectly frank, COVID is going to come to Western Australia … it will either be unintentional, through some sort of transmission, or when the borders are open," he said.

"COVID will come to these local communities and that's my biggest concern.

It's hoped the incentive scheme will lift the staff's vaccine rate.  (Unsplash: The National Cancer Institute)

He said the scheme could save ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time or disruption to staff who have to take time off due to illness. 

Mr Campbell said staff who could not get the vaccination for medical reasons would not miss out.

"If someone has a legitimate medical reason, and they can provide the evidence from their doctor to say they can't get the vaccination, they will also be eligible for that payment," he said. 

About 40 workers had provided their vaccination certificates so far, Mr Campbell said.

Incentive welcomed

Dr Katie Attwell from the University of WA, who researches West Australian's attitudes to COVID-19 vaccines, described the Shire of Manjimup's approach as "really interesting".

"I think it's a really good strategy," she said.

She said the incentive was unlikely to work on people who were firmly against the vaccine. 

"They're not going to change people's mind who feel very strongly they don't want to have the vaccine."

Dr Attwell said the cash incentive could persuade those who had not got around to getting the vaccine or were mildly hesitant.

"What incentives can be excellent at doing is activating people to motivate them to actually go out and get vaccinated more quickly," she said.

She praised the shire for taking action.

"I hope that others will follow their lead," Dr Attwell said.

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