The Kiwi Indian community has now achieved a near-100 percent double vaccination rate. But none of them will be enjoy freedom until at least 90 percent of the rest of New Zealanders get double jabbed.
How may we go about achieving this?
Experts say offering personal incentives is now the key to achieving a high vaccination rate.
On Friday, the government announced its decision to introduce a new traffic light framework in the country’s strategy to minimise and protect New Zealanders against COVID-19. During the press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduced details of its Covid-19 Protection Framework, involving the roll-out of a 'traffic-light' system once all District Health Boards hit 90 per cent full vaccination rates.
On Labour Day, 87 percent of the eligible population in the country had received their first dose, while 71 per cent had the second dose. 93 percent of Auckland Central was administered their first dose, and 81 per cent had received their second. Waitemata District Health Board had administered the first dose to 90 per cent of its eligible population, 76 per cent had received the second dose. Counties Manukau was catching up with 88 per cent having received their first dose and 73 per cent with second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Auckland is expected to move into Red as soon as the Auckland DHBs hit the 90 per cent vaccination target, rather than wait for the rest of the country.
Principal Investigator at Te Punaha Matatini, Dr Dion O’Neale who has been providing advice to the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet says it is possible for Auckland and other regions to reach the 90 per cent target by Christmas.
He said, “Whether we do or not depends on details about the last remaining people to get vaccinated — things like how many people are going to refuse vaccination, and how easy access is for people who might be willing to get vaccinated but haven’t had good access or incentives until now.”
Many such incentives such as food parcels, KFC buckets have been introduced for New Zealanders to go get vaccinated.
The Indian community organisations have been working in overdrive to encourage people to get vaccinated. Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust organised transport to drive its senior citizen members to vaccination centres.
Several New Zealand businesses are encouraging staff to get vaccinated via incentives of cash prizes, donations and extra holidays.
Westpac and SkyCity Entertainment Group introduced paid special leave for employees to attend Covid-19 vaccination appointments.
UP Education offered cash and charity donations, while Steel & Tube offered $150 cash along with other incentives to its staff.
The mandate to be jabbed or miss out was clear in the Prime Minister’s address on Friday. She said, “If you want summer, if you want to go to bars and restaurants. Get vaccinated. If you want to get a haircut. Get vaccinated. If you want to go to a concert, or a festival, get vaccinated. If you want to go to a gym, or sports events, get vaccinated.
Several businesses have also already laid out their stand on full vaccinations for its staff.
Perpetual Guardian has mandated vaccination for all its staff, while Fisher & Paykel is also aiming to have 100 per cent of its staff vaccinated.
Auckland Airport will only hire staff vaccinated against Covid-19 in future and existing frontline staff without the jab face losing their jobs.
Psychologists and behavioural scientists reason that the freedom afforded by the traffic light framework to those who are double jabbed, will act as a form of incentive to those who may still be hesitant.
Dr Sarb Johal, registered clinical psychologist, in her blog commented that with the new traffic light framework, the government is looking to incentivise behaviour change to access goods and services.
She said, “Nudges and policy settings are approached from different angles to show people a way of life, if they chose to remain unvaccinated.”
“Life will be more open for those who are vaccinated, more limited for those who choose not to be,” she adds.
Dr Bodo Lang, Senior Lecturer, Department of Marketing, University of Auckland says making things personal would drive people’s behaviour.
He said, “New Zealanders who have failed to be convinced by the government’s emotional and rational arguments thus far are likely to respond to incentives because incentives are personally relevant to them.”
He however, adds that New Zealand does need a specific deadline for the incentive to remain appealing. He said, “Regardless of what the incentive is, it needs to have a close deadline. Having a close, specific, and appealing incentive will likely see a marked increase in first and second vaccinations in New Zealand.”
Good on Kiwi-Indians to have achieved 100 percent with no incentives whatsoever!