| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Philippines community raffles off bags of rice to bolster COVID-19 drive

A community in the Philippines has been raffling off huge sacks of rice in exchange for getting inoculated against COVID-19, after finding it hard to convince people to get their jabs.

Twenty weekly winners who get their shots in Sucat on the outskirts of the capital Manila have been receiving a 25 kilograms (55 pound) sack of rice each.

Local official Jeramel Mendoza said the initiative was targeting mainly poorer residents, who were not so keen on vaccinations.

“Initially, when we conducted our inoculation drive, there were very few people signing up. So we asked ourselves why?” he said.

“Why are those rich people or those who live in exclusive villages able to lead the vaccinations, but our poorer sectors do not to join in or participate?”

Sucat village officials said since starting the initiative at end-May, they have been administering their daily quota of vaccines of up to 2,000 doses, whereas before they were giving only about 400 doses a day.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month appealed to the public to get vaccinated, after data showed the government was far behind on its immunization targets as it battles one of Asia’s longest-running outbreaks.

This week, Duterte showed less patience, threatening in a televised address on Monday to jail people who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

About 2 million of the Philippines’ population of nearly 110 million are fully inoculated against COVID-19 so far, although the country has had difficulties securing vaccine supplies.

A survey of 1,200 Filipinos in May by independent pollster Social Weather Stations showed only a third were willing to be vaccinated, while a third were hesitant over concerns about side effects or the overall efficacy of vaccines.

  • Reuters