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Asia CommentTaipan

Hong Kong: Give shots to get shots

Countries around the world are announcing all kinds of incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated. But access to alcohol may offer the most appeal.

My friends in China have received milk, eggs, and even a bluetooth mouse after getting their jabs. Others in the US have been offered free doughnuts, beer and marijuana. Most of them were going to get their jabs anyway but they were happy to gain some added benefits.

However, the situation in Hong Kong seems to be different. The government has struggled to persuade people to get vaccinated, and over one million doses of vaccine are set to expire unused.

In response, the city has launched lucky draw programmes, hoping to attract people to get vaccinated. Some of the prizes are very enticing: a HK$10.8m apartment, a Tesla Model 3, or unlimited stays at Shangri-La for a year. There are also free flights and shopping and dining vouchers up for grabs.

Now, a new Tesla would be nice, but I'm not sure a one-in-seven-million chance of winning one will really get me to sign up for a jab. To be honest, most of my friends, like myself, haven't held back because of concerns about possible vaccine side effects — we've just been too lazy to sign up for an appointment.

However, there is one sure fire way to get us on board — alcohol.

A friend of mine expressed his excitement recently that his local was reopening, but he was dismayed when he showed up to find himself rejected at the door. No vaccination, no entry, he was told.

This spurred him into immediate action. There and then he signed up for a vaccine appointment on his phone.

The government should take note. If the lucky draw doesn't work, just create a new entry requirement for pubs: ID cards for age proof and vaccine records. That should do the trick. 

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