ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It might be a while before essential workers like grocery store and restaurant employees can get vaccinated in New Mexico, but when that time does come some employers are planning to offer incentives to get the shot.

Dan Garcia, the co-owner of Garcia’s Kitchen said even though times have been tough for his business, he said offering incentives to his employees to get vaccinated isn’t off the table. “We could figure out, either way, if it’s a money thing, they can choose whether they want to take off a day or two or something,” said Garcia. “Because we don’t know how the reactions are going to be either.”   

The Washington Post recently reported a handful of grocery and restaurant chains across the country are offering bonuses and other benefits, like days off, for their employees that get vaccinated. Here in New Mexico, we’re currently in Phase 1B, focusing on people 75 and older and people with underlying health problems. So grocery store and restaurant employees aren’t eligible quite yet.

Although, Garcia said he certainly won’t force any of his employees to get vaccinated when they are eligible. He believes it would still benefit everyone if his staff did get vaccinated. “So it’s something that would really be good because if we can all get vaccinated, customers feel safer coming into Garcia’s,” said Garcia. “I think it would be good for the business and it could be good for them also.”      

A spokesperson with Albertson’s sent a statement saying in part: 

When Albertsons Market team members become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we will encourage them to get it. The vaccine provides another line of defense against COVID-19 for our team members, their store family and the community. Our store pharmacies will provide free COVID-19 immunizations to our team members as soon as they are eligible and the vaccine is available.”

They said they’re also considering offering incentives to their employees who get vaccinated, but nothing is official. KRQE News 13 also reached out to Smith’s and Walmart to see if they plan on offering vaccine incentives but did not hear back.