U.S. meatpacker JBS offers $100 to employees who get COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the JBS USA Worthington pork plant, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Worthington, Minnesota, U.S., October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan/File Photo

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Meatpacker JBS USA and chicken company Pilgrim’s Pride Corp said on Thursday they will pay $100 to U.S. employees who voluntarily receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The bonus is intended to encourage employees to get inoculations, after thousands of U.S. meatpacking workers became infected with the coronavirus last year. Outbreaks of the disease temporarily shut slaughterhouses in the spring, pushing up meat prices and tightening supplies for consumers.

JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride said internal surveys showed 60% to 90% of employees at individual facilities were willing to be vaccinated. The companies have launched educational campaigns to promote the vaccine to their workforce, which includes immigrants from around the world.

According to federal guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food and agricultural workers are scheduled to receive the vaccine in a later phase, after healthcare workers and people over the age of 75.

“We recognize that some team members in our diverse workforce may have concerns or be less inclined to get vaccinated,” said Chris Gaddis, JBS USA’s head of human resources.

JBS USA processes beef and pork and is the U.S. arm of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA, which mostly owns Pilgrim’s Pride.

The companies are working with state and local health departments and healthcare providers to determine the best way to deliver the vaccine at each plant location, according to a statement.

Rival meatpacker Tyson Foods Inc said on Thursday it will offer vaccines on site at its facilities while employees are on the job.

Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O’Brien