How can we sweeten the vaccination program?

May 05, 2021 10:21
Photo: RTHK

If you cannot force someone to do something, perhaps you can try to motivate them and make them happier.

The subject in question is Covid-19 vaccination, which the Hong Kong government is trying every way to boost up in preparation for border opening.

Ironically while some countries are struggling to get more vaccines, Hong Kong appears to have more than people want because the city is comparatively more successful in controlling the pandemic than rest of the world, and thereby a victim of its own success as the low chance of infection means there is less urgency for people to go and get a shot.

Of course the bad publicity from cases of death or people suffering from negative reactions after taking a jab has made the general public more hesitant.

Meanwhile, although Hong Kong is good, it is not good enough for its neighbours – namely Macao and mainland China, for them to open up their borders unless Hong Kong achieves zero infection.

At present, close to one million residents out of a total of more than 7 million have taken the first dose.

Since last weekend, the government found three infected cases after launching a mandatory test for all 370,000 foreign maids.

It went even further to require the maids to get injection before they started the new contracts, but the Carrie Lam administration appeared to back off and asked Secretary of Labour Law Chi-kwong to reconsider after a strong protest from the Philippines against the controversial policy, which could have turned into an unwanted international crisis.

Incentives may work better than mandatory measure to get more people vaccinated. For example, Sino Land is offering two days of paid holidays to staffs who complete the two-dose vaccination process. The developer’s shopping malls are also offering coupons to customers who are vaccinated.

It is expected local developers and other big corporates would follow suit with more creative incentives to help boost the city’s vaccination rate.

Such incentives are also common in the United States. New Jersey is offering a “shot and beer” for residents to get their first vaccine dose in May, according to the New York Times. Maryland is offering a US$100 payment while Detroit is giving out US$50 prepaid cards.

Even critic David Webb came up with an idea for a VacciLottery, which gives away jackpot at different milestones to attract more early takers. Hong Kong people love Mark Six, don’t they?

Well, our government officials probably need to be more creative.

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EJ Insight writer