From live chickens to million-dollar apartments, a growing number of Asian countries are going all-in to get their populations vaccinated!
With vaccine misinformation on a rampage, governments around the world are facing serious challenges in trying to reach herd immunity through vaccinations as the pandemic continues.
With mounting pressure to return to normal and save fracturing economies, certain countries in and around ASEAN have resorted to luring citizens in to get vaccinated by offering a range of interesting prizes, rewards, and incentives. Unfortunately, Malaysia is not yet on that list, as they chose instead to give RM20,000 to every Member of Parliament (that’s over RM4 million) so they could “promote the vaccine.”
IN CHIANG MAI, GET A JAB AND GET A COW
In Thailand’s Mae Chaem district in northern Chiang Mai, the offer of free cattle in exchange for vaccinations has been a real hit with local cattle farmers. Thai authorities are working hard to expedite the country’s vaccine rollout, seeing as only 4.76 million people (out of the country’s total population of 66 million) have received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose.
Noticing that residents were reluctant to get vaccinated, district chief Boonlue Thamtharanurak came up with the clever idea of holding a cow raffle.
“Our vaccine registration numbers have gone from hundreds to thousands in a couple of days,” he says said.
“The villagers love cows. Cows can be sold for cash.”
More than 4,000 people in priority groups, including those over 60 years old and those with pre-existing conditions, have already registered for their shots, according to Mr Boonlue.
The free cattle campaign has already garnered vaccine registration from more than half the district’s residents whose demographics include a large number of senior citizens, with many being in high-risk health groups.
“This is the best gift ever,” said 65-year-old Inkham Thongkham, who managed to win a one-year-old female cow valued at US$320 (THB10,000) after getting his jab.
HONG KONG IS HANDING OUT BOTH REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS
To the outside world, Hong Kong is one place that looks like it’s managed the pandemic relatively well due to generally heightened discipline and adherence to Covid-19 safety measures. You’ll be surprised to know the island metropolis actually has quite a low vaccination rate that has been worrying Hong Kong’s authorities; the last thing anyone needs is a resurgence of cases. (Taiwan is facing a similar problem, as months of relative success have bred coronavirus complacency.)
Tackling the issue in Kong Kong, certain businesses and companies have taken the responsibility of ensuring their employees get vaccinated through a reward system. Hong Kong companies are offering shopping vouchers, free flight tickets, paid leave from work, and even a multimillion dollar apartment (worth US$1.4 million (HK$10.8 million)!
On the opposite end of the reward spectrum, those choosing to stay unvaccinated are facing possible fines and punishments.
According to The South China Morning Post, the General Manager of the Hong Kong Football Club had to issue a warning to employees, that refusing vaccination without a doctor’s exemption would result in no future opportunities for pay rises, bonuses, and promotions.
MISINFORMATION IN INDONESIA DISSUADES CITIZENS FROM GETTING VACCINATED
In Indonesia, data from the country’s Ministry of Health revealed only 5% percent of the population (8.8 million people) are fully vaccinated, receiving their two doses. With a total population of 276.2 million, Indonesian authorities have acknowledged that they still have long way to go before they reach their target of vaccinating 181.5 million more people in order to reach herd immunity.
Unfortunately, due to widespread misinformation involving religious concerns, many are expressing their (unfounded) fears about getting vaccinated. It’s particularly unfortunate, as most of these bizarre ideas – which would seem absurd to young, educated urbanites – are preying on older, less-sophisticated people in Indonesia’s many rural, and even remote, areas.
“I was afraid that if I was vaccinated, I would die immediately. Then there was more worrying news that this vaccine contained pork,” explained 67-year-old Asep Saepudin, a Muslim resident of West Java’s Cipanas district.
Indonesian authorities have adopted Thailand’s initiative of offering free livestock to citizens to get them vaccinated. Not with cows though, but poultry.
“Elderly people don’t want to be vaccinated for various reasons. Some say they want to, but don’t come, and some are even afraid,” says Cipanas district police chief, Galih Aprian. “So we reward them with chickens.”
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