Councillor Terry Rondon of Toco/Sangre Grande Regional Corporation is making a personal effort to combat vaccine hesitancy by donating hampers as an incentive to encourage people in his area to get vaccinated against the covid19 virus.
Rondon is giving out a hamper daily to a lucky person who takes the vaccine.
At the start of the initiative on May 24, Rondon presented Joan Bethelmy and Babsie Ramlogan with hampers at the Toco Health Centre after they received the vaccine.
The hampers are specifically for people from the Valencia East/Toco region. The recipient is decided by a draw at the end of the day. Rondon said he intends to keep the incentive going.
"As long as I can afford it I will continue," he said.
Rondon was in high praise of the efforts of the Eastern Regional Health Authority (EHRA) CEO Ronald TsoiaFatt and the frontline workers who, he said, are doing yeoman service in the area. Rondon said he is pleased with the response to the programme and people were coming from as far away as Erin to Toco to get the vaccine.
Vaccine hesitancy is a problem all over the world with people from all walks of life. While Rondon's drive may not have picked up as yet here in Trinidad and Tobago, several countries have been offering a range of incentives to all age groups to combat vaccine hesitancy. The enticements range from beer, cash giveaways, a meal, sports tickets, paid leave, to even an opportunity for fully-paid tertiary education.
The problem of vaccine hesitancy is so serious worldwide that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed it as one of the ten threats to global public health.
Vaccine hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases, WHO said. Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved, the WHO said.
A vaccines advisory group to the WHO identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence as key reasons underlying hesitancy.
Meanwhile, the US has ramped up incentives to get people vaccinated with enticing new offers that include a US$2 million commitment from DoorDash to provide gift cards to community health centres to be used to drive people to get vaccinated, an AP report says. Also, CVS stores launched a sweepstakes with prizes including free cruises and Super Bowl tickets. Major League Baseball will host on-site vaccine clinics and ticket giveaways at games. Kroger will give $1 million to a vaccinated person each week this month and dozens of people free groceries for the year.
As of June 5, some 110,110 people in TT have received one dose of the vaccine, while 1,179 have been fully-vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health.