Biden to Urge Employers to Give Workers Paid Time Off for Vaccinations, as U.S. Passes 200M Shots

President Joe Biden is expected to call on employers to give their workers full pay for time they need off to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and time to recover from any aftereffects of vaccination. He'll also highlight a little-known tax credit that could be used to offset the costs.

"People do not want to lose pay to get vaccinated," a senior administration official told Newsweek and other outlets Wednesday in a preview of Biden's speech set to take place in the afternoon. "No one should have to lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they got vaccinated."

Biden is expected to announce that the United States this week will hit the milestone of administering 200 million coronavirus vaccine shots since he took office in January—a week ahead of his goal for hitting that number during his first 100 days. That's on top of about 13 million administered under the previous administration.

After a vaccine rollout that prioritized older people and those with pre-existing conditions, all Americans age 16 and older are now eligible to get vaccinated when they can get an appointment.

More than 560,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States, and the rate of infection has seen an uptick in recent weeks after a steep decline.

Still, about a quarter of American adults currently don't plan to get vaccinated, according to an Economist-YouGov poll released last week.

With most older Americans already getting shots, the official said the administration is now setting its sights on the role that employers can play to incentivize vaccinations. In addition to paid time off, some companies are offering other incentives, such as discounts or gift cards.

"Even small incentives move the needle," the official said. "They also send a message that your peers and people in your local community think it's important to get vaccinated."

Some employers have begun offering on-site vaccination clinics by partnering with local health care providers or pharmacies.

"We think that's a good trend," the official said. "Of course, not every employer is able to do it."

The official said the Biden administration, which hasn't taken a position on so-called "vaccine passports" that some companies are mulling, also won't take a position on companies that want to mandate that their employees get vaccinated.

The employer tax credit for paid vaccination time off, which was tucked into the most recent COVID relief package, will go to companies with fewer than 500 employees and cover up to $511 a day, per employee who takes time off for a vaccination.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the Cross Hall of the White House April 20, 2021 in Washington, DC as Vice President Kamala Harris watches. Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images