South Africa’s government is resorting to cash incentives to counter widespread vaccine hesitancy and apathy as the country contends with an upsurge in coronavirus infections driven by the new omicron variant.
People who get their first shot before the end of the year will be entered into a draw to win a share of R2 million, the health department said in a statement on Thursday. It’s also offering R200 in food vouchers to those who are 50 and older if they get inoculated, double a previous incentive.
Almost 3 million Covid-19 cases have been detected in the country so far and the caseload has surged since last week as omicron took hold. But only 36% of adults have been vaccinated, despite the country having an ample supply of shots.
“The new variant is a wake-up call for us all,” said David Harrison, the chief executive officer of the DG Murray Trust, which is managing the lucky draw for the health department. “In the past month, the rate of first-dose vaccinations for adults has plunged by nearly 50%. While three-fifths of people over 50 are now vaccinated, there are still 4 million individuals in that age group who are not.”