The SAR government couldn’t persuade many Hongkongers to get Covid-19 vaccines even if it paid them, Chief Executive Carrie Lam conceded on Tuesday.
There have been calls for the administration to offer people cash to get jabs, to help tackle Hong Kong’s dismal inoculation rate.
Fewer than a million of the SAR’s 7.5 million or so residents have so far been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, with concerns about side effects and the territory’s low infection figures among the reasons cited by people shunning the jabs.
But a refusal to heed any advice from the government also appears to be a factor in Hongkongers’ reluctance to get jabs, with Lam herself recently admitting that people have lost trust in her administration.
Before Tuesday’s Executive Council meeting, she dismissed the idea of paying people to get vaccinated.
"To offer cash or something physical to encourage vaccination shouldn't be done by the government and may even cause the opposite effect," she said.
Lam added that it would be better for private organisations or employers to provide economic incentives, such as cash or gifts.
She also urged shopping malls to come up with their own incentives, saying the government’s measures should be limited to things like ensuring a sufficient supply of jabs, making it convenient for people to receive them, and offering relaxed social distancing measures for those inoculated.
Lam said the government will consider dropping a requirement for some workers to have regular Covid tests if they are fully vaccinated, and civil servants could be given days off after they get a vaccine.