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Asia Minute: Get a Vaccine and Maybe a Cow in the Philippines

Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP

Vaccines are not getting into arms in the Philippines as quickly as the government would like.

Since March 2020, more than 1.2 million people in the Philippines have had COVID-19.

More than 21,000 have died from it.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte went on national television to urge people to get their shots—part of a plan to vaccinate nearly half of the country’s 110 million residents by the end of this year.

The government is running behind in reaching its initial target group of senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions. quotes a data analyst on the government’s coronavirus task force as saying vaccine supplies are limited and there’s some hesitancy—especially with vaccines from China and Russia.

He also said only about half of those who got their first shot have come back for their second.

Local governments are trying to entice people with rewards—though more modest than the lottery prizes or four-year college scholarships offered by some U.S. states.

The Straits Times reports the mayor of a town north of Manila plans to raffle off a cow each month for those who accept a vaccine from China or Russia.

Another mayor has a similar strategy--using 55-pound bags of rice.

There are other deals with food and even cash—a presidential spokesman said “We’re not bribing them. It’s just marketing.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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