EDITORIAL | Vax rewards, not penalties, will achieve more

Ideas

EDITORIAL | Vax rewards, not penalties, will achieve more

With the vaccine rollout starting to stutter, the way in which we engage people to come on board will be vital

Editorial

Tertiary institutions are mulling over how to deal with the rules around vaccinations for students. Sunday Times Daily  (https://select.timeslive.co.za/news/2021-09-09-be-sports-and-vaccinate-students-or-tertiary-bodies-may-make-life-prickly/)reported last week that some are considering making unvaccinated students take regular Covid-19 tests. The hope is that the thought of having to go for a Covid-19 test every 72 hours to prove you are not sick will be enough motivation to rather get vaccinated. Some universities, colleges and technikons are considering rewarding the vaccinated, allowing them more privileges, such as participating in sports and cultural events. This is a much more constructive way of dealing with a polarising issue where different sets of rights come into play, including the rights to freedom of choice and the right to be protected from spread of disease.

Sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa made all the right noises last week when he announced the “Return to play — It’s in your hands” campaign to encourage vaccinations instead of enforcing a culture of jabbing. SA Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan made it clear an unvaccinated fan won’t be welcome at a stadium, adding that Safa was looking at the possibility of giving away 50% of tickets to a Bafana Bafana match to vaccinated fans. This approach should be welcomed with open arms, though cynics may argue that Bafana has been battling to fill up stadiums. Rugby writer Liam del Carme (https://select.timeslive.co.za/sport/2021-09-09-sa-rugby-once-again-shies-away-from-tackling-big-issues/) pointed out in his Sunday Times Daily column that the SA Rugby Union has been ominously quiet on the exact same matter. It needs to step up. 

Epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim (https://select.timeslive.co.za/news/2021-08-29-us-pfizer-approval-is-the-boost-sa-vax-drive-needs/), who is a member of the African Task Force for Coronavirus, recently explained the social psychology behind a successful vaccination campaign. He used the analogy of “early adopters”, such as people who are first in line to try new technology, saying everything starts with that group, which makes up about 20 to 30% of the population. The second group, about 50% of the population, is not hesitant or anti-vax, “they are just not early adopters”. For that group to sign up, it needs to be easy for them to get vaccinated. “They will not get vaccinated for a minor obstacle such as having to take a 20-minute bus ride. You get rid of that problem by creating access and making the vaccine available.” The US solved that problem by making the vaccine available at every pharmacy...

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