Kroger paying employees $100 to get COVID-19 vaccine

Kroger is paying its employees $100 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the company announced Friday.

The 500,000 associates who work at Kroger stores across America can get the one-time payment after receiving the full dose recommended by vaccine manufacturers.

"We know that the most effective defense against this pandemic comes in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine and the continuation of the rigorous safety precautions we've established across our stores, manufacturing facilities and supply chain," Kroger Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Watkins said Friday.

Grocery stores and retail chains were among the first businesses to require strict masking and social distancing protocols at the start of the pandemic, and they are now among the first to urge employees to get vaccinated.

Dollar General announced last month that it is giving employees a one-time payment equivalent to four hours of work to get their shots.

Aldi similarly said it would give employees two hours of compensation for each dose they receive, up to four hours total.

McDonald's announced this week that it is giving employees four hours of paid time off to get the vaccine.

Businesses can legally require employees to get the vaccine, but they must make exceptions for medical or religious reasons.

Kroger said that employees who can't get the vaccine for medical or religious reasons have the option of completing an "educational health and safety course" to get the $100 payment.

As of Friday morning, more than 58 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the United States and 36,819,212 have been administered.