Instacart has been covering some COVID-19 costs for shoppers, and that now includes vaccines — although its latest help might not thrill everyone. As of February 1st, the grocery delivery service will give eligible American and Canadian shoppers a $25 Vaccine Support Stipend to help them take time off for COVID-19 immunizations. In theory, they won’t have to fret about passing on an order just to get the shot that could could save their life.
The company is also redistributing free safety kits with face masks and hand sanitizer. It has already handed out 620,000 kits to date.
It’s an important offer for shoppers who face hours of risky store visits every day, but it might not be enough. Current COVID-19 vaccines typically require two doses weeks apart — $25 likely won’t cover the missed orders during both trips. That’s assuming there aren’t lineups or other delays. Add in fuel costs and it’s likely shoppers will still lose money getting vaccinations, even if it’s not as much pay as they might have lost otherwise.
Instacart has taken a slew of efforts to both protect workers and encourage responsible behavior during the pandemic, including paid sick leave for shoppers who catch the virus or need to isolate. At the same time, the stipend might fuel criticism of the company’s working conditions, which can include low pay and fast-paced schedules. Many shoppers will likely rush to get vaccinations regardless, but the stipend might not significantly influence that decision.