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Injecting incentives into inoculation

Local leaders are getting creative in trying to entice their constituents to get inoculated.

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The issue is no longer “vaccine hesitancy,” said Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte recently, but “vaccine envy.”

As the rollout continues, more Pinoys are clamoring to get their shots, a far cry from a few months ago when they could not seem to be convinced to do so.

Benefits for the vaccinated have been cooked up to entice more citizens to go for it — not that they need much convincing nowadays when many seem more inclined toward that FOMO (fear of missing out).

Yes, folks, it is true — apparently, the waitlist is growing as reports reveal that vaccines will eventually go in short supply as our government makes another readjustment, this time on the number of vaccines it will purchase.

Meantime, some local leaders are getting creative in trying to entice their constituents to get inoculated. How about “a cow for a jab,” goes an article in Straits Times about an effort by a mayor in Pampanga?

There is also a house and lot being offered by a developer and discounts galore in commercial establishments. From turon to bigas, pantry staples to cold, hard cash, vaccination now has a prize.

The idea is inspired by other governments around the world offering rewards for those who submit to that injection against Covid-19.

In Hongkong, a “summer bonanza of lotteries” awaits, according to the South China Morning Post on 9 June.

Perks galore coming from private enterprises include “a brand new HK$10.8 million flat and a Tesla to gold bars, shopping coupons, hard cash and even a party on a private flight.” These were proferred in response to their government’s SOS to get citizens taking the vaccine, the paper further said. Bonanza, indeed!

In the United States, raffle draws have been organized to reward those who have already gotten their vaccination. A 22-year-old won a million dollars in such a raffle. Tax breaks and airline tickets are also up for grabs.

In the Philippines, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said government hopes to “motivate our seniors and also our people with comorbidities.”

Yet perhaps what would motivate our hordes, judging from netizen and random feedback, is an assurance of a spot in the schedules.

For many, what has convinced them to take any vaccine that’s available, zapping that stubborn “vaccine bias” that was there from the beginning, is the prospect of being able to move about with less restrictions — the chance to finally see families and friends, or gather in celebration for almost any reason, as Filipinos are wont to do.

This desire alone would make any gambit mere icing on the cake, though for those who still lack knowledge even just how to go about getting the doses, it could get nowhere.

While the Department of Health has been immensely helpful in providing necessary public health information, trickling these pertinent data down to the grassroots has been difficult.

Other than these incentives to lure citizens to get inoculated, local government leaders have work cut out for them still in filling those public information gaps and ensuring not just access to but the availability of these vaccines to everyone in the priority categories.

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