An Indonesian town is rewarding elderly residents with live chickens for getting vaccinated for COVID-19 after the initial inoculation campaign saw a low turnout from the public.
“I was afraid that if I was vaccinated, I would die immediately,” said Asep Saepudin, who received his first shot of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, and a chicken, more than half a year after the country began its vaccination program.
The 67-year-old is one of the benefactors of the new door-to-door vaccination drive in Cipanas district of West Java province, which kicked off on Tuesday (June 15). Authorities show up at elderly residents’ homes without prior notice, prepared to hand out vaccines and chickens.
Local authorities said it has been quite difficult persuading elderly residents to get vaccinated due to existing fears towards the vaccine.
“Elderly people don’t want to be vaccinated for various reasons. Some say they want to be vaccinated but don’t show up (for their vaccination), and some say they’re afraid or have other various reasons (for not getting vaccinated). That’s why we visit them… and we show our appreciation by giving chickens to the people who want to be vaccinated,” said district police chief Galih Aprian, who initiated the chicken incentive program.
Cipanas aims to have 60,000 residents fully vaccinated by the end of July. So far, only 2500 residents have received at least one vaccine dose since January of this year.
The world’s fourth populous country officially reported more than 1.9 million coronavirus infections and 53,280 deaths on Tuesday, although recent seroprevalence studies show the true scale of the spread could be 30 times higher.
Data from Indonesia’s ministry of health shows that only 5% of the country, or 8.8 million people have been fully vaccinated, far from the target of 181.5 million people by the end of the year.