Provide incentives to counter vaccine hesitancy: Health activists

They could be additional ration or extra days of MGNREGA work, they say

Health activists attached to Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) here on Wednesday called for providing incentives to counter COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the rural areas, while affirming that it would help accelerate the pace of vaccination among the villagers who were reluctant to get the jab because of lack of knowledge or out of suspicion.

The JSA, which functions as the Rajasthan chapter of the People’s Health Movement, said the incentives could be in the form of additional ration from the public distribution system, extra days of MGNREGA work, such as 150 days of guaranteed wage employment instead of 100 days in a financial year and hot cooked meals or additional ration to pregnant and lactating women from Anganwadis.

Chhaya Pachauli, director of the voluntary group Prayas, said the reports had been received from some districts about the rural population being coerced by the administration to get vaccinated with the threat that they would not be given ration or MGNREGA wages if they did not get inoculated.

Violation of right to food

“This is not only exploitative but also amounts to sheer violation of people’s right to food and employment,” she said. The JSA felt that the government should instead focus on the measures which aimed at educating the people about vaccines and dispelling their myths and fears.

The provision for incentivising the people could motivate those who were reluctant to reconsider the option of getting vaccinated and push them to make up their minds quickly, said Ms. Pachauli, adding that such an approach could help increase the vaccination rate and reduce the waste of vials.

The JSA has shot off letters with these suggestions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Medical and Health Minister Raghu Sharma.

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