Friday, September 24, 2021

Incentivizing Covid shots an option, biz leader say

PROJECT BALIK BUHAY. Vaccination sites at the Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital in Cebu City, Chong Hua Hospital in Mandaue City and Allegiant Regional Care Hospital in Lapu-Lapu City serve the private sector under Project Balik Buhay. / PBB Facebook

THE leaders of three business organizations in Cebu are open to suggestions to provide incentives that will encourage more private sector employees to receive the vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

However, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam said the employees still have the final say on whether to get vaccinated or not.

“As per government regulations, we cannot force anyone to be vaccinated. It’s their right to decide and choose,” Taguiam said.

He said incentivizing vaccination may be a good option.

“But there needs to be a more thorough study as this might backfire. Other employees who got the vaccine ahead may feel that it is unfair,” he said.

For the past few weeks, however, he said some employees were convinced to get the vaccine after hearing about colleagues getting the shots.

Taguiam assured employees who do not want to be vaccinated of a “normal” workplace environment.

Steve Yu, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said dangling a little carrot or incentivizing employees to get jabbed may fight vaccine hesitancy in the workplace.

“Vaccine hesitancy among company employees has gone down to 40 percent, from a high of 70 percent months ago. As exemplified by the US and UK, vaccination can help lift us out of the pandemic-induced economic crisis,” Yu said.

He said the benefits of incentivizing employees to get the vaccine far outweigh the staggering costs of this economic malaise.

“The sooner we do it, the better the results would be, and (there would be) less permanent scarring in our local economy,” he said.

Class divide

Yu warned that as the proportion of vaccinated employees reaches about 20 percent, there could be a class divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“While we espouse freedom of choice to get vaccination and non-discrimination towards the non-vaccinated, the nature of this virus will in itself veer towards the unavoidable scenario of a class divide,” he said.

Naturally, a fellow employee or a client will feel more comfortable dealing with a vaccinated person, he said.

Vaccinated persons will also This does not include the effects on access and travel between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons as Yu said that this cannot be avoided from happening.

Filipino Cebuano Business Club (FilCebu) president Rey Calooy said when companies give incentives to employees, they will be willing to get jabbed.

Calooy said some private companies in the United States even pay their employees to get vaccinated by the government.

“They are frontliners of the economy, so it is important they get vaccinated,” he said.

Waiting for their turn

Neil Kho, owner of health and wellness store The Green Table, prefers to have his employees vaccinated.

“We serve essential products to the community,” Kho said. He said they were still waiting to be accommodated and assigned slots.

Rachel Rosal, a writer, said she would take the vaccine.

“While vaccination does not guarantee a 100 percent protection from Covid-19, I would take the shot rather than none at all. I want to protect not just myself, and set an example for my loved ones that it’s okay to get vaccinated,” she said.

The government is currently inoculating Priority Groups A1 (health workers, mayors and governors), A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with comorbidities).

Frontliners in essential industries, or A4, and the indigent population under A5 will become eligible for the vaccine in June.

The Cebu IT BPM Organization (CIB.O) said the inclusion of the IT-BPM employees in A4 will sustain the industry’s gains despite the pandemic.

Buddy Villasis, executive director of CIB.O, noted that the IT-BPM industry is a major contributor to the economy.

“To echo what Secretary Lopez said, we can not afford to lose a major economic driver. The Philippines’ IT-BPM industry’s more than $30 billion annual revenue must be

protected,” Villasis said.


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