I remember the little red rabbit.
It was coloured onto my upper arm, marking where the needle went in for one of my early childhood vaccinations. Forty-plus years later, it’s really all I recall of the occasion.
Following my first vaccination for COVID-19, as I was waiting the 15 minutes before leaving the clinic at the SASCU Recreation Centre, I noticed other shot recipients were receiving stickers. I shared word of this via text with my co-workers, who seemed to view the sticker as an added bonus to being vaccinated. An adhesive equivalent to the red rabbit I suppose.
As of June 11, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, just under 600,000 vaccine doses for COVID-19 had been administered among the 742,000 residents within the Interior Health Authority’s jurisdiction. About 500,000 of those were people’s first dose. Across the province, about 73 per cent of all adults and 70 per cent of those 12 and under had received at least one dose. However, there was still more than 2,000 active cases, with 176 people in hospital and 49 of those in critical care.
While there are people adamantly opposed to vaccinations, there is an understanding that many others are “vaccine hesitant” and just need the right motivation – something more than a sticker.
With the highest rate of COVID-19 infections in Canada, on June 9 Manitoba announced it would hold a vaccine lottery to encourage immunizations. Three prizes of $100,000 were available to be won, along with 10 prizes of $25,000. On the heels of this announcement, B.C. Premier John Horgan said he believed the his province could reach its vaccination objectives without such incentives, though he didn’t rule them out.
South of the border, a wide range of public and privately offered vaccination incentives have been up for grabs, from free “joints for jabs” in Washington State, to California’s vaccine lottery and gift cards, to offers of free beer and doughnuts.
The need to up-sell something intended to keep us from getting sick and/or from dying with cash prizes, ale and crullers might seem absurd. But being dismissive of people’s reasons for vaccine hesitancy won’t help any. Empathy is a better approach. This is all new to most of us; we’re all learning as we go.
For my second dose, I won’t be holding out for a temporary rabbit tattoo, a sticker or a doughnut. I am, however, looking forward to saying farewell to face masks.
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