The government has said that young people will be offered discounted takeaways and car travel to get their Covid jabs in a bid to boost vaccine uptake.
Food delivery and ride-hailing firms including Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo will offer incentives to people to get vaccinated. Additionally, the government has also suggested introducing a vaccine pass to enter a nightclub, to go to lectures, or to go abroad. As expected, incentivising the ages 18-29 population to get themselves vaccinated has stirred up a lot of controversy.
Working in recruitment within Public Health and Local Authority, this conversation has arisen and has since prompted me to consider the thoughts of my network. For this reason, I recently conducted a poll which made it possible to succinctly examine both sides of the argument. 62% of voters declared that strategies such as giving discounts and vouchers would not incentivise them to get the vaccine. For some, this has been perceived as coercion and a bribe that won’t nullify their concern of the vaccine itself.
Also fighting the same corner was a common opinion that the focus should be on education and helping people make an informed decision, rather than introducing incentives for something considered to be a personal choice. The generalisation of what ‘young people enjoy’, i.e. Deliveroo and Uber, seems to be a superficial attempt at an incentive.
However, not all believe that the incentive is a futile endeavour, with 9% of voters saying the scheme would encourage them to get vaccinated, 7% of voters were undecided and 22% selected ‘other’, suggesting that these individuals are impartial.
Through written responses, these voters implied that providing further education on the vaccine would be the common sense approach, but that perhaps the government feel that they tried this and didn’t get the desired results. So far, a third of 18-29 year olds are still to come forward for their vaccine. And as such, ministers are desperate to increase uptake before the end of the year. Furthermore, a small percentage of voters believed that the incentive is a good idea for those individuals who haven’t given it much thought and needed that extra little 'nudge', to get them over the line.
However, the announcement was met with further criticism claiming that the incentive would have wider ramifications, and was described as a ‘hammer blow’ for the struggling hospitality industry (Kate Nicholls, the Head of UK Hospitality). Possible ramifications seemed to worsen as ethics were brought into question; incentivising the vaccine would in essence undermine the concept of informed consent.
Offering incentives to encourage good health behaviour isn't new, but it does raise concerns.It is fair to say that any medical procedure that requires an incentive could be viewed with caution.
The key outcome of my research deduced that informed consent is the only way to incentivise, not strategies. Offering people benefits to get the vaccine may work for some, but is it ethical?
About our author:
Mia is a Senior Consultant, working in Public Health, placing specialist candidates into Local Authority clients.
Mia brings with her a wealth of recruitment expertise. She is skilled in delivering senior and strategic level permanent resources to the Public Sector.
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