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‘Vaccination incentives are not bribes’

2022-07-05  Paheja Siririka

‘Vaccination incentives are not bribes’

MTC executive Tim Ekandjo has said incentives offered to individuals being vaccinated against Covid-19 should not be seen as an act of bribery, but a form of creating awareness against the deadly coronavirus. 

“These efforts are not bribes as some call them, I want to make it very clear that vaccination incentives are rewards used to encourage vaccinations, not to force vaccinations. Such interventions have proven that incentives increase the uptake by at least 10% because people are encouraged to come out not just because of the incentive,” said Ekandjo who was speaking during the #LoveProtects vaccination pop-up at Soweto Market in Katutura. 

Ekandjo added these efforts are in the interest of the community because, as corporates, they want to protect families and save lives.

MTC was amongst the many corporates who got on the bandwagon of many institutions incentivising to increase the national vaccination rate with the introduction of free annual leave days for their ambassadors.

This was followed by the launch of a national initiative called VaxUp081 Campaign in October 2021 in partnership with the health and information ministries. 

“Through this campaign, we pledged to distribute N$12 million worth of data incentives to the first 130 000 Namibians who come to get their first vaccination dose,” he elaborated.

 “This platform also provides Namibians with an opportunity to make bookings for vaccinations from the comfort of their homes through their mobile devices and choose their preferred vaccination type and site across the country.”

Through this campaign, Namibians earned themselves a data bundle incentive with prepaid customers receiving one free Super Aweh bundle while post-paid customers receive a 3GB data bundle valid for 60 days after getting their first vaccination shot. 

“We deliberately targeted the first dose because research on vaccination hesitancy showed that it was highest amongst those who haven’t received their first dose yet,” he stated.

Ekandjo informed that to date, more than 10 000 Namibians made use of the platform to book vaccinations and many more have expressed interest.

To encourage Namibians to be jabbed, individuals and companies moved to incentivise their employees and the public to get the jab by offering fish, free burgers and even a tablet computer.

This is an added encouragement for the country to reach herd immunity which now seems like an unrealistic goal as the vaccine take has been worryingly slow. The relaxation of the health regulations and the non-mandatory wearing of masks has made the public idle.

A little over 499 708 people have received at least the first dose of Covid-19 in Namibia, while 429 415 are considered fully vaccinated. 

This translates to 24.1% of the total target population 1 779 271.

The country has so far recorded 4 065 Covid-19 deaths. 

First Lady Monica Geingos said the issue of education and encouraging the public to be vaccinated is not only for the sole purpose of Covid-19 but to ensure confidence and trust in medicine. “When we give up on the Covid-19 vaccine, then we stop believing in polio and other types of vaccines,” said Geingos.

She said even with the incentives and other forms of encouragements, the public is urged and highly cautioned to get inoculated for the right reasons.

2022-07-05  Paheja Siririka

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