Vaccine incentives are ‘an act of desperation’, says former CHI

Chief of Staff in the prime minister’s office, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst (Photo courtesy the office of the prime minister)
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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The country’s former chief health inspector, Lionel Michael, believes that offering incentives for vaccination is not only an act of desperation but one that has also been deemed offensive.

In response to the resistance to taking the jab in some quarters, a growing number of countries are offering incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Judging by the variety of incentives out there, tangible encouragements are seen by governments as just the nudge that some reluctant vaccine takers need.

In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, a $50 grocery voucher, petrol and lucky dips to win laptops and even $1,500 cash are reportedly being offered.

But Michael, who is also a public health specialist, told Observer that the Gaston Browne-led administration must try to find other suitable techniques to get people inoculated.

“People don’t like the idea of being offered food as an incentive for something as important as a vaccine. If you were offering land as opposed to Kentucky or ground beef, it probably would be a different situation,” he said.

Michael said it might be in the government’s best interest to strategise the situation.

“They are to seek advice from socialists, psychologists, public health specialists, the health promotion people, on what are some of the measures that can be adopted to push people to taking the vaccine,” he said

Incentives, he said, should never be about trying to offer freebies because the vaccine clearly has benefits.

“We need to put forward these benefits the best way we can; it must be truthful and we need to be role models so people can get vaccinated,” he said.

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