Pollster gives thumbs down to vaccine incentives

Peter Wickham
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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Regional pollster Peter Wickham said it’s unfortunate that Caribbean leaders must resort to offering incentives to sway the hesitant to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Antigua and Barbuda has been offering $50-dollar grocery vouchers and petrol to those who get a first dose of the jab, and Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he may even consider other incentives to include Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

While incentives are being offered in neighbouring islands too, Wickham yesterday told Observer that one should not have to incentivise people to get a life-saving shot.

“The issue is important enough that government should not have to go the way of inducement by KFC. It belittles the importance of the vaccination which ultimately protects you,” he said.

Wickham said, however, that while he will not support such a decision, he understands the government’s position on the matter.

“In life you have to say whatever it takes to get it done, let’s go with it. Personally, I am not happy with the policy, in the sense that I really wish it were possible for them not to go that way, but I understand the challenges,” he said.

The opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) is expected to issue a position paper on the matter this week. The party’s leader Harold Lovell has already said such strategies are unlikely to have any significant impact, and that leaders need to convince people, not bribe them.

Several residents have also criticised the move.

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