Updated Sept. 1, 6:15 p.m.
Tulsa City Councilors on Wednesday approved a proposal to spend almost $1.8 million in federal virus relief program on a campaign encouraging employees to get vaccinated.
The city’s American Rescue Plan Working group pitched giving employees who are or who get fully vaccinated $250. They must do so by Oct. 15 to receive the stipend
Workers in departments that hit a 70% vaccination rate can receive another $250 beginning Nov. 1.
City Councilor Kara Joy McKee said it’s a good way to encourage employees to protect themselves so they can continue protecting Tulsa residents.
"All you have to do is look back to February when we were in that ice storm. These are essential employees that are protecting every single one of us. I mean, we can look to our neighbors in Louisiana, who are in a horrible situation right now. Natural disasters come, and it's the city employees who are there to come to our rescue or keep the water or the lights on," McKee said.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said credit for the idea must be given where it’s due.
"This idea, I think originally came to us from Chuck Hoskin, chief of the Cherokee Nation, who mentioned that they had done this for their employees. And then Councilor [Jeannie] Cue found out that the Muscogee Nation has done the same for their employees, and that's really what caused us to start looking at what other governments had been doing and other local employers," Bynum said.
The vaccination incentive is for city employees only. Elected officials like the mayor and city councilors do not qualify.
The city received nearly $88 million from the American Rescue Plan. The council previously approved spending almost $10 million of that on employee retention and new-hire signing bonuses.