It’s been the word on everybody’s lips for the past few months — vaccines. With hundreds of people queuing for leftover vaccines, you would get the impression that everyone is raring for the shot. However, that is not quite the case in the Netherlands.
In general, the Dutch seem to put their faith in vaccinations. Yet, the ever-changing policy has created confusion over the safety and effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines. For example, many Dutchies have opted not to take up their appointments for the AstraZeneca jab.
A recent study found that more than a quarter of EU citizens say they don’t want to be vaccinated against coronavirus. In the Netherlands, this number is even higher, with 31% of respondents saying no to the vaccine, reports the NOS.
Interestingly, the uptake of vaccines is lower in countries where their main sources of news are via social media. But what can a country do to increase vaccine uptake? Some states have taken an innovative approach to encourage people to roll up their sleeves.
Who wants the vaccine?
According to research conducted by Eurofund, around 65% of Dutchies are broadly in favour of getting their shots. This is the percentage of participants who said they were either “very likely” or “rather likely” to get the vaccine. That may sound like a high percentage, but 75% of a population needs to have antibodies to achieve herd immunity. The most surefire way to achieve this percentage is through mass vaccination.
So this begs the question, how can the Netherlands get more people interested in being inoculated? Well, they could follow the USA’s footsteps and offer rewards for getting your jabs.
Food and cash rewards
The US has tackled this issue in the most American way — by offering free stuff. New Jersey state is offering everyone who gets a vaccine a free beer in their “shot and a beer” programme. Similar schemes are running in Washington DC and Connecticut reports de Volkskrant. We could see this being popular with a lot of Dutchies, due to the national love of beer. 🍻
That may already sound like a pretty good deal, but some US states have taken it further, giving people cash rewards. The city of Detroit is offering $50 to anyone who brings someone else to a vaccination site, whereas West Virginia is offering residents between the ages of 16 and 25 a whopping $100 for getting the injection.
Ohio is going even further, offering anyone who gets a vaccine in the next five weeks a chance to enter a prize draw of $1 million, according to RTL Nieuws. (Hold my hat while I try to become a US citizen 🇺🇸 ).
Would this tactic work in the Netherlands?
All joking aside, this is an interesting way to tackle the low uptake on vaccines. At present, the demand for vaccines in the Netherlands still outweighs the current rate of inoculation. Andrea Evers, professor of health psychology at Leiden University, tells de Volkskrant that rewards could be effectively used in the Netherlands.
She suggests it would be most effective at persuading people who sit on the fence when it comes to getting vaccinated rather than people who strongly disagree with the vaccine. “There is a much larger group of people who are not that interested in the vaccine, who have other things on their mind, or who are just a little lazy. You do want to persuade them to come.”
It does, however, bring up a few ethical issues. Will offering money compromise people’s incentives for getting vaccinated? Probably for some people. But do incentives for getting the vaccine matter if it helps achieve the desired outcome of herd immunity? It depends if you value intentions and personal choice over general public health. There seem to be fewer ethical qualms when non-cash rewards are offered, I suppose it looks less like you are paying people to get vaccinated.
As it stands, most people in the Netherlands seem to be up for the vaccine, and the rollout is picking up speed. We are not yet at the stage where we need to offer rewards to keep on top of the Dutch vaccination strategy, but it could be a good move to encourage those who are still sceptical. It could be a small price to pay for herd immunity. After all, who’s going to say no to a free beer. 😂
What do you think about being rewarded for getting vaccinated? Would it change your mind about getting the jab? Let us know in the comments!
Feature Image: Gustavo Fring/Pexels