Supermarket giant Kroger to pay $100 to workers who get COVID-19 vaccine

CINCINNATI -- Kroger has joined a growing list of large US grocery store chains offering incentives for workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The company announced that its associates would get a one-time $100 payment if they show proof that they've received the full manufacturer-recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Workers that can't get the vaccine for health or religious reasons can get the payment if they take an educational health and safety course, the company said in a news release.

"We know that the most effective defense against this pandemic comes in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine and the continuation of the rigorous safety precautions we've established across our stores, manufacturing facilities and supply chain," said Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger's chief medical officer in the statement. "We are strongly encouraging all customers and associates to receive the vaccine to curb the spread of COVID-19, and we'll do all we can to ensure they have access as soon as it's available."

The Kroger Co. (KR) operates grocery stores under a number of names in 35 states.

The company said it would also spend an additional $50 million to thank and reward its associates, including a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points to its hourly front line grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates.

Earlier this week, the chain announced that it would permanently close two Ralphs and Food 4 Less stores it owns in Long Beach, California, to avoid paying a $4/hour hazard pay required by the city.

Aldi, Trader Joe's, Dollar General and Instacart have also announced that they would pay workers to encourage them to get vaccinated.

Health officials say there has been progress in the US vaccination effort.

A total of 36,819,212 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the US and the 7-day average is 1.3 million doses per day, according to data published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.