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At one local hospital get the COVID-19 vaccine, possibly win a prize

There are deep frustrations nationally and locally over the lack of COVID-19 vaccine doses. At one WNY hospital, there is an incentive for workers to get vaccinated.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — In terms of getting people in Phases 1a and 1b vaccinated, one thing we constantly hear from state and local officials is more vaccine is needed.

We've heard anecdotally of people driving long distances to get the shot, and others so overcome with emotion in finally getting vaccinated.  

Health care employees have been among the very first group of workers eligible to get the shot. But still, many are hesitant about getting the vaccine for various reasons, such as they have a medical condition, or they've been waiting until after the holidays, or they're waiting to see how the first deployment of doses go. 

At Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, any employee who gets vaccinated is entered into a prize drawing on February 15, when they could win one of four prizes. This is coming from Alexander Collichio, vice president of Human Resources at Niagara Falls Memorial. 

2 On Your Side hasn't received clarity on exactly what kind of prizes workers could win. 

"NFMMC is committed to encouraging all of our employees and the community to receive a vaccination in order to bring the COVID pandemic that has defined the last year of our lives to an end," Collichio wrote in an email to 2 On Your Side.

"Although the COVID vaccination is not mandatory for employees, NFMMC has strongly encouraged employees to receive this vaccine to assist with reduction of COVID infections and mitigate any contagion," Collichio told 2 On Your Side.

The hospital has adopted the “Get the shot. Save a life,” campaign to encourage employees to receive the vaccination. 

"To accommodate employee vaccinations, we have opened an in-house vaccination clinic four days a week. Employees have been released during work hours to be provided the vaccination and for the fifteen minute observation period. Additionally, we track the percentage of vaccinations of employees in departments each week and update managers as to their vaccination percentages," Collichio said. 

Last week, during a news briefing for Governor Andrew Cuomo, Memorial was listed as a "low performer" in getting workers the vaccine. We have not received an updated status from the state on Memorial's progress in getting workers the shot.  

However, Memorial says it has used all the vaccine that has been given to the hospital and that if doses aren't used there, they are distributed to people in Phase 1. To date, the hospital says it has vaccinated more than 3,500 people, including 680 employees.

"Employees are provided educational sessions with physicians and pharmacists to discuss the facts regarding the COVID vaccine and to dispel any misinformation that may be circulating. Recently we held a townhall session with our employees to discuss the facts regarding the COVID vaccine and to hand out documentation regarding this vaccine," Collichio said.

There have been reports nationally, of hospitals and businesses offering bonuses to workers who get vaccinated.