The Star: Carrot and soft stick can push along vaccination drive

by Tarrence Tan, The Star | 5 September 2021 | In The News

A study involving 1,307 Malaysian adults found those unvaccinated for Covid-19 might be convinced to get jabbed if they were compelled to pay for tests on a fortnightly basis.

This was based on preliminary results of the study “Norms, Trusts and Increasing Vaccine Registration in Malaysia” by the Asean Research Centre at the Asia School of Business published on Thursday.

The study found that mandated self-paid PCR Covid-19 tests every two weeks for those yet to register for the vaccine would expedite vaccine take-up rates.

The final paper for the study will be released at a later date once it has undergone rigorous peer-review at an academic journal.

Led by Dr Melati Nungsari, Dr Sam Flanders and several other researchers, the study involved an online survey experiment from June 21 to July 5.

According to the study, tough measures were implemented in Singapore where unvaccinated workers in malls, supermarkets and food delivery businesses are tested twice a week.

“The vignette experiment in this study indicates that the attitude towards the vaccine is not highly driven by social pressure, but significantly affected by the likelihood of being punished,” the centre stated.

Dr Nungsari said they conducted two behavioural survey experiments to study respondents’ reactions towards a state-imposed carrot-and-stick approach.

“The first experiment suggested that 80% of respondents who had yet to register for the vaccine did so when there is a cash incentive,” she said.

Another key finding indicated that “a second experiment showed that respondents predicted that a punishment of having to self-pay for PCR Covid-19 tests every two weeks was more effective at promoting vaccinations compared to an incentive of being enrolled in a lucky draw with one large cash prize of RM1mil.”

Universiti Malaya’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine’s Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming said the government must consider multiple measures to encourage the public to get vaccinated.


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This article was originally published on The Star.