People in the Philippines are so loath to get the COVID-19 vaccine, one town is offering free cows as an incentive, a report said Monday.
Local officials in San Luis, within the Pampanga province about 50 miles north of Manila, are raffling off a cow each month to inoculated residents as a means to encourage people to get the jab, Al Jazeera reported.
“Winning a cow might not mean much in other places but here in San Luis, we’re agricultural, so it’s the ideal incentive,” Ardee Taruc, the town’s disaster mitigation officer, told the outlet.
The cows, supplied by local donors and worth about $628, could be a ticket out of extreme poverty for some residents, the outlet said. It’d be able to eat for free on an abundant supply of grass in the locale and a farmer could start a herd, use the cow to carry heavy goods and sell its milk, the outlet said.
“It’s up to the winners if they want to slaughter the cows,” Taruc said.
Vaccine hesitancy, coupled with a sluggish roll out, has been a major issue in the southeast Asian country, which is grappling with one of the worst outbreaks in the region.
As of June 6, a mere four percent of Filipinos out of roughly 110 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine and only 1.4 percent have gotten the second shot.
A local polling service, Social Weather Stations, found only a third of residents were willing to get the jab and the hesitancy has been driven largely by concerns over the vaccine’s side effects and doubts about how effective the shots are.
To combat the hesitancy, local governments are offering a range of incentives, including raffles for free sacks of rice and other grocery items and in one town, anyone who signs up for the vaccine is entered into a raffle for a house and an accompanying lot.
“I heard a house-and-lot was at stake. I want that, of course,” Fannie Taladro Pestaño, who was concerned about the vaccine’s side effects, told the outlet as she lined up for her first dose.
“We need it… Whatever happens, happens. It’s all up to God.”
Some states in the US, which has also grappled with vaccine hesitancy, have offered lottery raffles as high as $1 million for those who sign up for the shot.