Pushing Back on Vaccine Hesitancy

A crush of people mobbed a Manila site trying to get the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week. So, the Philippines has taken a “brand agnostic” approach and barred local governments from announcing which jabs are given out at inoculation sites, NPR reports.

Background: China’s Sinovac vaccine makes up most of the country’s supply.

Speeding vaccinations is an urgent issue for the Philippines because it has Southeast Asia’s second-highest COVID-19 infection rate and less than 1% of its 108 million people are fully vaccinated.
The slow rollout has been blamed on people waiting out higher-efficacy vaccines, misinformation, poor government messaging—and scars from the botched rollout of the dengue fever vaccine DengVaxia in 2016.
Meanwhile in the US: Lottery tickets and cash payouts are being offered to persuade the “vaccine hesistant.” In a Washington Post commentary, James Hohmann details the downside of the approach, which can: 

  • Make people more suspicious or vaccines seem riskier
  • Habituate people to hold out for more perks for future boosters or vaccines
  • Ignore mistrust or misinformation about the vaccines that should be addressed head-on 

Hohmann also takes issue with euphemisms such as vaccine hesitant to describe “people who — let’s face it — selfishly ignore experts” and urges people to think about how “entitled and spoiled this must look to the developing world, desperate for access to vaccines.”

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