President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a tax credit for employers offering paid vacations related to vaccines as the White House urges more Americans to research Covid vaccines amid a slight drop in vaccinations.
The Small and Medium Business Tax Credit will fully offset the cost of paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, as well as to recover from any potential side effects of the vaccination, the White House said.
The Biden administration is also calling on employers to use their resources to encourage vaccinations by sharing accurate information and offering possible incentives, such as product giveaways and discounts for those vaccinated.
“Every employee should get paid time off to get vaccinated, and companies need to know they can provide it without hurting their bottom line,” Biden said in a White House speech. “There is no excuse not to do it.”
The tax credit, which is part of the $ 1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package that Biden enacted last month, applies to nearly half of all employees in the private sector, according to the White House.
For businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees, the tax credit will cover paid time off up to $ 511 per day per employee for a maximum of 10 working days, or 80 hours of work, taken. between April 1 and September 30, 2021.
Biden announced the tax credit after touting that the United States is expected to hit 200 million shots of Covid administered since taking office.
The president said if the pace of vaccinations had remained the same as when he took over from former President Donald Trump, it would have taken 220 days to reach the same milestone.
“It’s an incredible achievement,” Biden said, but “we still have work to do with our target groups.”
The president urged all people 16 and over to seek a vaccine against Covid. “If you’ve been waiting for your turn, wait no longer,” Biden said. “The time has come.”
The president originally aimed to achieve 100 million shots in 100 days – a target that has drawn criticism for being far too modest. The Biden administration topped that number in 58 days.
About 26% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts have reported that the percentage required to achieve so-called herd immunity is much higher.
But the vaccination rate has dropped slightly in recent days, although every American adult becomes eligible for a Covid vaccine from this week.
The United States is reporting an average of 3 million daily vaccinations over the past week, according to CDC data, up from around 1.8 million in early March.
That level has declined slightly in recent days, from a peak of 3.4 million shots reported per day on April 13 to just over 3 million on Tuesday.
The slight drop in the daily rate may be due in part to the ongoing Johnson & Johnson vaccine investigation. Earlier this month, the United States Food and Drug Administration advised states to suspend use of J & J’s vaccine “out of caution” after six women developed a rare blood clotting disorder.
Although the J&J vaccine represents less than 4% of the 213 million total vaccines administered in the United States to date, it was used for an average of almost 425,000 reported injections per day at peak levels as of mid-April.
Unlike Pfizer and Moderna’s offerings, J & J’s vaccine only required one dose, making it ideal for some communities who may have more difficulty accessing vaccination sites multiple times over the course of several weeks.
Government officials said the country has sufficient supplies of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to maintain a rate of 3 million vaccines per day.
The Biden administration maintained a sense of urgency around vaccinations, stressing that Covid remains a serious threat – especially as highly contagious variants spread across the United States
“It’s almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this wave that looks set to increase,” infectious disease specialist Dr Anthony Fauci said earlier this month.