Are incentives key to getting South Africans to vaccinate?
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South Africa’s vaccination hesitancy remains high and vaccine uptake is slowing down dramatically. Economist and Director of Nascence Research Insights, Xhanti Payi says that education and health illiteracy plays a big part in South Africans’ unwillingness to get vaccinated.
It’s almost as if people don’t really understand what the vaccination is.Xhanti Payi, Economist and Director – Nascence Research Insights
People always talk about the fact that when we were all young, we were all vaccinated. So, parents know that they vaccinate their children and it’s something that they understand very well… they took it as a rule that that’s what you do, so it’s not as if you have a choice about it.Xhanti Payi, Economist and Director – Nascence Research Insights
Despite this, now that the government has introduced choice around whether to get vaccinated or not, more people are asking questions around the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, says Payi.
In a recent media briefing, Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced that the South African government has set a target to have 28 million people fully vaccinated by December to avoid a devastating fourth wave of COVID-19.
As of 4 October, the Department of Health announced that over 18 million COVID-19 vaccines had been administered – 10 million doses shy of the desired target.
South Africa is behind the curve and finds itself in a position where the only logical solution to this health crisis is to appeal to human nature and our desire to want to be rewarded for getting vaccinated.
So, is there sufficient reason to provide incentives to spur COVID-19 vaccinations amongst South Africa’s vaccine hesitant groups, asks The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield.
Payi believes that South Africans have built a culture of expecting incentives for their actions and that efforts to incentivise people will inspire them to get vaccinated particularly because of the return on their investment.
Getting something out of this is probably another thing, especially because many South Africans have to expend both effort but also money to get to those places where they can vaccinate. So, I suspect incentives will be very good.Xhanti Payi, Economist and Director – Nascence Research Insights
While government is still looking into ‘soft incentives’ such as free entertainment and access to sporting events to vaccinated citizens, Discovery became the country’s first private sector business to offer incentives to clients, with fully vaccinated Vitality members automatically qualifying for 2500 Vitality points before December and new clients receiving their maximum possible PayBack for the first year of a new policy, whilst unvaccinated clients applying for new policies will be subject to higher premiums due to increased mortality risks.
From an economic perspective, Payi suggests that spending money on incentivising the vaccine could offset the enormous cost of acquiring the vaccines, which are at risk of expiration if not used soon – a loss that we cannot afford.
The danger we are now facing is costs that have already been spent and also the economy, given that if we don’t do this, we are actually going to face even worse costs… We’ve already come this far, if we want to actually complete the marathon, we’re going to actually have to add a little bit extra.Xhanti Payi, Economist and Director – Nascence Research Insights
The economic consequences of failing to deal with COVID-19
Tourism has been the hardest hit since the outbreak of the virus. As the industry buckles under the pressure and skilled labour is being lost, Payi believes that the only way that we can save it is by directing our efforts towards driving the uptake of vaccinations.
It’s an industry for the long-term... If we don’t save it through the vaccination period, it is something that will actually go away and will be difficult to bring back, which means it will take the jobs that we needed to create as we replace the jobs that are being lost.Xhanti Payi, Economist and Director – Nascence Research Insights
The long-term disruptions of South Africa’s failure to contain the virus and get more people vaccinated will not only have devastating effects on economies, lives, and livelihoods but also on the future of everything and could potentially burden us with a 20-year economic consequence.
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Source : https://cib.absa.africa/insights2021/