Education should be at the forefront of vaccination discussions — not financial incentives

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The province of Alberta has undoubtedly been struggling with vaccinating its population. Look no further than their recent announcement regarding a vaccine incentive.

The province will now offer a financial reward of 100 dollars for those who receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Unfortunately for the province, less people took them up on this offer than what was hoped for. This leaves the problem of how to incentivize those who will not respond to  financial compensation.

The government of Alberta did not fully understand the issue they were dealing with when they implemented this policy. If all it took for someone to change their mind about one of today’s fundamental issues was 100 dollars, governments could change the will of the people on almost every issue by writing a cheque. People are, of course, more entrenched in their particular point of view than this. 

The problem now is that  patience has run out. Public health officials, politicians, and many of those in the general public would rather blame the unvaccinated for the ongoing crisis and demonize them whenever possible.

Even if you believe this to be true, that is no way to go about convincing others to get vaccinated. If you tell someone they are to blame for restrictions, lockdowns and death, do you really believe this will change their mind? Or will this simply make them dig their heels in and hold onto the belief they currently hold?

There were those, when vaccines first became available, who jumped at the opportunity. And then there were those who were more hesitant. In the beginning, people were more understanding of both sides.

Vaccine development was comparatively quick, and for the great majority of people who are unable to read scientific studies, the onus fell on media outlets to explain the benefits of the vaccine. We are living in a time when many media outlets struggle with credibility, so this was an uphill battle from the start.

There are great explanations for why people should get vaccines, but that conversation is not being had anymore. People would rather scare or guilt the unvaccinated into getting the vaccine. A 100-dollar incentive does not change a person’s mind if they believe the world is demonizing them.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s strategy of promising “consequences” for federal employees who don’t get vaccinated is not a good plan. If you have to threaten someone with job termination to convince them  you have the correct stance on vaccinations, you have failed.

So, what should we  do? Talk about the science of vaccines more. Do not demonize the other side. Show patience. Understand that 100-dollar incentives do less than proper education. Education will change minds. Guilt-trips won’t. 

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