By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday that they will leave it to the local government units (LGUs) to decide whether or not they will introduce incentives for residents who are willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Lacson, they are committed to reaching the February 2022 target date for Negros Occidental to reach herd immunity, pointing out it is “more realistic.”
“We will be asking our barangay captains to convince their constituents, [because] it is only when you have the willing constituents that you can create demand,” Lacson explained.
At present, the governor said he cannot yet consider any incentives for any barangays in the province that will be able to perform well in the COVID-19 vaccination program as it is already late in the year, although he did not discount the possibility of introducing it by next year.
“It is almost the end of the year already so I can’t promise, but maybe next year,” he said.
Lacson blamed vaccine hesitancy due to misinformation such as those being spread by individuals from religious denominations who claim that the vaccines are “no good” or “unacceptable,” as well as fake news.
However, another factor that may be blamed due to the low vaccine turnout is accessibility, pointing out some areas in Negros Occidental are still hard to reach, although they are now looking for ways to bring the vaccines to the said areas.
Several LGUs in the province such as the cities of Escalante, La Carlota and the town of Toboso have already introduced incentives to individuals who are willing to get vaccinated.
Among the incentives include free grocery items, cash assistance, or both.
Other LGUs in the province, meanwhile, have even proposed holding raffle draws for vaccinated individuals.
As of November 15, data from the Department of Health (DOH) in Western Visayas shows that Negros Occidental currently has 1,306,972 individuals who are still unvaccinated.
The province also recorded 518,398 of the 1,825,370 target population already receiving at least one dose of the vaccine./DGB, WDJ