NASSAU, BAHAMAS — In an effort to encourage uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine, Minister of Health Renward Wells said the government is considering a vaccine lotto that would offer monetary incentives to the newly vaccinated.
“There is a lot of consideration; as a matter of fact, the National Vaccine Consultative Committee (NVCC) is looking at those,” he told Eyewitness News.
“In fact, we’re looking at private sector cooperation with us to be able to see whether or not we will.
“The suggestion has been made.
“The government has not made the definitive decision to move in that direction but, if need be, we will. We will offer incentives.”
Asked if the incentive program could be similar to Hong Kong’s or the United States’, the latter of which offers $100 to newly vaccinated individuals, the minister said: “That is now before the NVCC. They’re looking at it and, obviously, they’ll make their recommendations to the government and we’ll go in the direction that the administration believes is best to get people vaccinated.”
During a guest appearance on ILTV’s “Beyond The Headlines” with host Clint Watson, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts said: “The US embassy is working with the Bahamian government and other partners to see if we can introduce some of these incentives here in The Bahamas. I’ll let you stay tuned for more news on that.”
Last week, daily vaccinations had increased to around 1,500 per day, more than double the 700 reported per day in late July.
The Bahamas received a balance of 33,600 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organization (WHO) two weeks ago after a lull in vaccine supply.
Last week, the US donated 128,000 doses of Pfizer, the first of several tranches to be delivered over the next couple of months as the country expects to give around 400,000 doses in total.
The Bahamas remains in a surge of COVID-19 cases. With around 20 percent of the population fully vaccinated, the government aims to vaccinate up to 3,000 people per day to fulfil an ambitious goal of achieving herd immunity by Christmas
Wells said: “The prime minister tells us he wants to be able to vaccinate at least 3,000 per day.
“I believe we’re up around 1,500 persons or more.
“As you go around the vaccine sites that are currently open, they are packed with the Bahamian people who are coming forward and saying: ‘listen we want to be vaccinated.’”
Earlier this month, former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands told Eyewitness News that the government must find ways to incentivize unvaccinated individuals in The Bahamas to become vaccinated, including monetary benefits.
Other international jurisdictions have already introduced incentives to their residents in a bid to bolster vaccination numbers.