Amazon is launching on-site Covid-19 vaccinations at some warehouses

A worker loads customer orders into a waiting tractor-trailer inside the million-square foot Amazon distribution warehouse that opened last fall in Fall River, MA on Mar. 23, 2017.
John Tlumacki | Boston Globe | Getty Images

Some Amazon warehouse workers will soon be able to get vaccinated against Covid-19 at their workplace. 

Amazon announced Thursday that it’s setting up on-site vaccination clinics at fulfillment centers in Missouri, followed by Nevada and Kansas in the coming weeks. At the clinics, which are expected to run for about five days, vaccines will be administered to employees by licensed health care providers.  

The company said it expects to launch vaccination clinics at additional warehouses across the country as more vaccine supply becomes available to front-line employees in other states. 

It comes as the U.S. continues to pick up the pace of vaccinations, with the nation administering more than 2.5 million shots per day. Companies with essential workers, including Amazon, have been vying to give their workers priority access to the shots.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance that employers with a large workforce can begin setting up Covid-19 vaccine clinics on site. Agriculture giant Cargill, Tyson Foods and some automakers and manufacturers in Detroit are among a growing list of employers that have launched on-site clinics at some of their facilities.

Heather MacDougall, Amazon’s vice president for worldwide workplace health and safety, told CNBC in an interview that the company has been working with a third-party administrator who secures the Covid vaccines on Amazon’s behalf. 

“Most of these conversations go on at the state and local level where those decisions are being made, in terms of who’s eligible for the vaccine,” MacDougall added. 

Some of Amazon’s front-line workers have already been vaccinated in states where they’re eligible.

The company has nudged its front-line workers to get vaccinated off-site by offering them a bonus of up to $80, or $40 for each dose. Employees who experience side effects from the Covid vaccine are eligible to take unpaid time off, Amazon said.

Inside its warehouses, Amazon has taken steps to alleviate fears or concerns around the vaccine among its front-line workers. In private Facebook groups, some warehouse workers in the U.S. have expressed skepticism and uncertainty around the vaccine’s side effects or the potential that Amazon will mandate vaccinations among its workforce.

Amazon has posted educational information and positive messaging about the vaccine around warehouses, including in “inSTALLments,” the informational sheets posted in facility bathrooms. One message viewed by CNBC told workers the vaccine is “safe and effective” and is the “quickest way for life to return to normal.”

The company also sent out a questionnaire to warehouse workers via Amazon Connections, an internal survey system, to gauge their attitudes about the Covid vaccine and other coronavirus safety measures. One prompt sent to workers said “Covid vaccines and regular Covid testing can help keep you and those you care about safe,” with workers given the option to answer “OK” or “I’d rather not answer,” according to a separate document viewed by CNBC.

Amazon is already seeing sizable interest in the on-site vaccination clinics. More than 1,000 front-line employees have signed up to get vaccinated at Amazon’s first on-site clinic at a warehouse outside of St. Louis, Missouri, which opened Thursday, the company said.

— CNBC’s Bertha Coombs contributed reporting to this article.