Manitoba

Manitobans asked to weigh in on COVID-19 vaccine incentives in online survey

The Manitoba government is floating the idea of offering prizes, free meals or payments of up to $100 to encourage people to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Premier Brian Pallister said last week he will soon outline new ways to encourage people to get vaccinated

The survey on COVID-19 vaccines also asks whether the respondent has received a vaccine, where they were vaccinated and their level of satisfaction with the experience. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The Manitoba government is floating the idea of offering prizes, free meals or payments of up to $100 to encourage people to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

An online survey issued by the government Monday asks respondents for their views on a variety of pandemic issues.

One question asks people whether they would be concerned if incentives were offered to people who have been hesitant to get vaccinated.

The possible incentives also include free admission to sporting events or museums.

Premier Brian Pallister said last week he will soon outline new ways to encourage people to get vaccinated.

The survey on COVID-19 vaccines also asks whether the respondent has received a vaccine, where they were vaccinated and their level of satisfaction with the experience.

Incentives must be used carefully, prof says

One professor at the University of Manitoba says vaccine incentives could be effective in helping people overcome hesitancy, but they need to be used thoughtfully.

Michelle Driedger, who works in the university's department of community health sciences, said vaccine incentives have already been used in some Indigenous communities in Manitoba during the pandemic, including some that have done draws for prizes.

Michelle Driedger is a professor in the department of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba. She says if the province introduces incentives to get people vaccinated, it should also think about incentives for those already immunized. (Submitted by Michelle Driedger)

In communities that have taken that approach, the incentive fits within established norms and expectations, Driedger said. But looking at introducing vaccine incentives for the general population can become a bit trickier.

For people who have already signed up to get vaccinated, the chance to be protected against serious illness and death was likely enough of an incentive.

But it will be important for the province to make sure that group doesn't question their decision to get their shot as soon as possible — or start to question whether they want to rush to get their second dose if there might be an incentive if they wait, Driedger said.

"Everybody who has done what it is you've wanted them to do, you want to ensure that you don't turn them off because others are now getting things," she said.

"If you were going to be doing something prospectively for those who haven't yet gotten immunized, then give some consideration and do something retroactively for those who have, if you're going the route of incentives, so that you don't have those individuals feeling like, 'Well, then why did I rush?'"

She said it's a complex issue with little research to suggest how effective any incentives might be. That's especially true for people who got their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Manitoba is now only planning to give to people who got their first dose of it already.

"They might have a lot more questions before they're even prepared to book for their second dose," Driedger said.

"It isn't simply a case of if you offer somebody something free, that they're going to turn up and get a vaccine."

With files from Caitlyn Gowriluk

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