Will incentives encourage more Koreans to get COVID-19 vaccines?

15-May-2021 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 7:14 AM Print This Post

The government is considering offering incentives to people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, as a means of encouraging citizens to participate actively in the vaccination programme.

But experts argue that the incentives should be accompanied by more support measures in case of possible side effects.

Starting from May 5, health authorities have allowed fully vaccinated individuals to skip a mandatory two-week isolation period after returning from overseas or coming in close contact with a virus patient.

On May 11, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said that it is considering easing social distancing restrictions on immunised people.

The ministry said that it may exempt immunised people from gathering bans of five or more people, as well as ease limits on the operating hours of businesses, once the owner is fully vaccinated, according to Interior minister Jeon Hae-cheol.

Another measure being considered by the authorities is making “vaccine leave” mandatory at all businesses, thereby giving people enough time to recover from potential immune responses.

Kim Boo-kyum, the newly-appointed prime minister, shared such a view during a confirmation hearing held at the National Assembly, May 6.

When asked whether vaccine leave should be made mandatory, rather than being just a recommendation to private companies, Kim replied, “I will review practical ways to secure a ‘vaccine leave system’ for all people, rather than requiring them to take leave of absence within the existing holiday system.”

Incentivising COVID-19 vaccine injections so as to encourage people to roll up their sleeves for the jab is not a policy limited to the Korean government.

Israel, where over 50 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, gave out a “green pass” to the immunised, allowing them to attend concerts, go to the gym or travel to certain foreign countries.

In the United States, where demand for the coronavirus vaccine has recently been slowing, the government is planning to launch a system offering free taxi rides to people on their way to vaccination sites. In some states, fully vaccinated people are given free beers or tickets to baseball games and aquariums.

However, local medical experts claim that such incentives may not be as effective in Korea, considering the country’s current low vaccination rate of seven percent.

Kim Woo-joo, an infectious disease specialist at Korea University Guro Hospital, said that the relatively low reservation rate among the elderly may be attributable to lingering uncertainties surrounding the safety of the vaccines.

“In order to increase vaccine acceptance, additional measures to relieve public anxiety through establishing a sufficient compensation scheme for possible side effects should be accompanied by the proposed incentive measures,” Kim said.

Chon Eun-mi, a respiratory disease specialist at Ewha Womans University Medical Centre, said, “The government could consider more feasible measures, such as giving support for costly medical tests ― such as MRI scans and blood tests ― that are required for people suffering from vaccine side effects.”



Category: Korea

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