The government of the small Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda considered a number of tactics to accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations, and finally, the country’s Minister of Health, Wellness & The Environment, determined it would pay people to take the COVID-19 vaccine. This government agency contracted with the Epicurean Fine Foods and Pharmacy to offer EC$50 food vouchers to each and every individual that steps up for the jab. The island of Antigua’s largest food market would be paid by the government in the deal, which raises a number of questions, given the economy of the low-to middle-income country.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, this island nation’s primary wave associated with the pandemic occurred during February 2021 through the end of March, and since then, the number of new cases per day has waned. With an estimated population of 98,731, the country reports just 1,241 COVID-19 cases with 33 deaths.
The economy of Antigua and Barbuda is heavily dependent on tourism (over 50% of GDP), hence the push to more than likely achieve what’s deemed “herd immunity” via vaccination. Although, there are attempts to diversify economic activity into transportation and financial services.
While the Jamaica Observer went on record that this recent announcement clearly indicated an act of “desperation,” that media suggests some form of incentivization actually may work to trigger an uptake of vaccination in that Caribbean island nation with its nearly 3 million inhabitants. A somewhat cynical view of their own people, the Jamaican Observer carried on in regards to this topic ”We believe, however, that incentivization to take the vaccine is an idea that both the government and the people of Jamaica should ruminate on. People are known to respond to incentives to do even what should be their duty to themselves or family.”
Actual Vaccination Efforts
According to the recent data, by May 11, 31,262 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or 31.6% of the total population. This was accomplished in just over a month as the island nation received its first 24,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX Facility, the partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In America, the lead NGO is the PAHO revolving fund, which sent 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by SK Bioscience of South Korea.
Call to Action: What are your thoughts about paying people to get vaccinated?