By Shermain Bique-Charles
An announcement that residents could be offered a free bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in exchange for getting vaccinated against Covid-19 has triggered a mixed response.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who has received a lot of pushback from the public about his administration’s vaccination incentives, said he has already held discussions with Health Minister Molwyn Joseph about the matter.
“I was saying to the health minister that he needs to offer Kentucky. There are many who vouch by the Kentucky brand. They say that may help to drive the vaccination process if we can offer a bucket of Kentucky for each person who gets vaccinated,” he said on Saturday.
Currently a $50 food voucher from the Epicurean supermarket and petrol from West Indies Oil are being offered to first-time vaxxers, a decision that has not gone down well with sections of the public.
One caller to Observer Radio said, whether it’s a scholarship or a bucket of KFC, the incentive is dehumanising because people are not being left to make their own judgment concerning their health.
Experts have also said that a more robust effort at educating the public on vaccines should be a higher priority.
However, Browne insists that most of those opposed to the incentives are simply getting involved in idle talk, because the initiative is a popular method in several other countries.
“We are not really paying attention to them because all over the world countries are using all kinds of incentives to get vaccinated. The US is giving free rides on the subway, lottery tickets, marijuana…” he said.
Browne said the government will seek to use whatever incentives it can to get people vaccinated.
In any case, Browne said there will come a time when people who are not vaccinated will not be able to live a normal life.
“If we say, if you’re not vaccinated you can’t participate in a club or in a fete, it is a choice that you took because if you really want to normalise your life then you will get vaccinated. Ultimately you won’t have a choice at the end of the day,” Browne said.
The opposition United Progressive Party is expected to issue a position paper on the matter this week. UPP leader Harold Lovell told Observer yesterday, “such strategies are not likely to have any serious impact; we need to convince people, not to bribe them”.