Monday, September 27, 2021

Editorial: Like a game for children

A CHILD doing a good deed would likely receive a reward from his parents.

It could be a pat on the head, a handful of candies, or a cash incentive (most likely in coins that some children detest).

For eligible adults and senior citizens, getting vaccinated is the right thing for them to do amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some local government units in Cebu reward their good deeds by giving them incentives, mostly in the form of packed goods.

However, there are some people who are still hesitant to get their Covid-19 jabs.

A report by SunStar Cebu’s Mary June V. Enriquez states that only one in six adults who are 60 years old and above residing in the southwestern Cebu town of Moalboal, or 500 out of 3,000, have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The fake news about the vaccines has apparently reached the elderly of a laid-back town—that the vaccinees would turn into zombies (and probably take part in “zombie apocalypse” a la “Train to Busan” or “World War Z”), and that their life span would constrict into two years.

Moalboal Mayor Paz Rozgoni revealed her town’s struggles in persuading eligible residents to get their jabs in an interview with Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021.

The local executive said she will personally visit Moalboal’s 15 barangays to ramp up the information drive about the benefits of getting an extra layer of protection against Covid-19 by receiving the vaccine jabs.

To persuade the undecided senior citizens to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, Rozgoni has started giving five kilos of rice, noodles and canned goods as incentives.

Senior citizens fall under the priority group A2 as their advanced age and lower immunity make them vulnerable to contracting the novel coronavirus.

Giving 10 kilos of rice and canned goods is also Borbon, northern Cebu Mayor Noel Dotillos’ way of enticing senior citizens to avail themselves of the vaccine.

Local officials’ looking for ways to encourage their constituents to get the available vaccines against Covid-19 is admirable because this shows they have faith in vaccines and they cannot force every eligible adult individual.

However, giving food packs just to egg on senior citizens to get their jabs could drain the coffers of a local government unit (LGU), especially the not-so-rich LGUs. The budget could as well be used in purchasing protective gear for doctors and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the fight against Covid-19.

Information drives about vaccination’s benefits and dispelling fake news at barangay level, perhaps, are the cheapest ways to encourage the vaccine-hesitant residents.

Inoculated people can also educate their anti-vaxxer adult relatives. Public leaders must also avoid employing a “populist rhetoric,” that getting a jab is a matter of choice in a democratic society because it could slow down the vaccination campaign, and put their places at risk of more Covid deaths. (See history’s populists, right-winger or left-winger. They made horrible actions against humanity—one far-right populist from Austria with a toothbrush mustache unleashed the Holocaust, killing millions of Jews; one far-left populist, a USSR dictator, killed millions of peasants as he wanted to transform Soviet Russia from a peasant society into an industrial superpower.)

Vaccination in a democratic society is like a children’s parlor game -- juvenile participants are promised a prize so they are encouraged to answer questions or play in the game.

Giving incentives to senior citizens or any adult individual eligible for Covid-19 vaccination is also like a game for children.


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