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Incentives for vaccines or time for some stricter measures?

Last week, a friend of mine from Nex Mexico sent me a message saying her state was giving out cash incentives to people to get them to take the COVID-19 vaccine. She was furious at how unfair that was since she got hers willingly while others are now getting cash incentives to take a vaccine that is supposed bring things back to normal for the entire world.

And honestly, I get her rage. Most people here in our communities have been excited to get the vaccine and have this pandemic be behind us. They have been trying to get into clinics, so much so that the phone lines have jammed, the health authority has been overwhelmed and people have even showed up to get vaccines when they have heard that the clinics might have had some extra. This is basically the reaction I have been seeing amongst most of my family and friends.

So why then have governments all across the world been trying to incentivize folks to get a vaccine dose?

From offering condos for vaccine jabs in Hong Kong to offering $100 gift certificates to youth in Nunavut, governments have been trying hard to get people to take the vaccine. And while for some, these incentives are helpful when accessibility for the vaccines is an issue, for others, why aren’t there stricter consequences laid out?

While the government has been encouraging everyone to get the jab no one has once uttered the much dreaded, controversial words “the vaccine is mandatory”. Talk of vaccine passport too seems to just happen in a void without any concrete actions being taken in the direction.

As someone who got the vaccine by her own volition, I strongly feel that those of us vaccinated need to have some sort of a reward over those who choose to not get the jab. And no, I don’t mean a monetary reward. While a vaccine should mean the reward or the benefit would be safety from the virus, that won’t really hold true unless everyone is vaccinated against the virus. I am talking about putting in place restrictions of movement, quarantines, and things like that on those who don’t get vaccinated by choice, as opposed to those who have taken their shots.

Those who choose to not take a vaccine, are no doubt choosing this with reasons of personal freedom, freedom of choice, freedom of religion. And they have the right to protest the vaccines or even call COVID-19 a conspiracy. But they have no right to put the remaining population’s health at risk.

For now, the governments seem to be playing it safe, offering reward for something that people should automatically be doing — ensuring they and their loved ones are not at risk due to their actions. It is time for the government to lay down some regulations not just to ensure fairness but also to ensure that those who are vaccinated are not being put at risk by those who aren’t by choice.