A brand-new apartment. Paid leave. A private party on a commercial plane.
Incentives to get vaccinated against Covid-19 are multiplying in Hong Kong, from the government as well as businesses eager to begin their recovery.
But the Chinese territory, which has largely kept the coronavirus under control, is now struggling with a sluggish inoculation campaign that officials worry could leave it vulnerable to an outbreak like the one currently faced by Taiwan, another one of the pandemic’s early success stories.
Experts warn that the incentives in Hong Kong may do little to allay the anxiety and confusion underlying people’s vaccine hesitancy, and that other solutions are urgently needed before Hong Kong faces a “fifth wave” of infections.
While other parts of Asia, like India and the Philippines, face dire vaccine shortages, Hong Kong has secured enough doses for its population of 7.5 million. Vaccination is free, but not compulsory, to everyone 16 and older, and on Thursday the health secretary approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children as young as 12.
Hong Kong is not the only place to encourage vaccination with prizes. Earlier this week President Biden said that a wide range of giveaways, like free tickets to sporting events, free flights and free beer, would be part of an aggressive campaign to have 70 percent of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4. California is trying a lottery.
Hong Kong’s vaccination campaign began in late February, with a goal of inoculating 70 percent of the population in order to reach herd immunity and allow Hong Kong to reopen to the world after sealing its borders to nonresidents.
That goal seems increasingly out of reach. As of Friday, just shy of 20 percent of the population had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and less than 15 percent had been fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.
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