A district in Beijing is trying to encourage coronavirus vaccinations by giving out over 200 million yuan (US$30.7 million) in shopping discount vouchers to residents who opt to get the jabs.
China aims to have 40 per cent of its population inoculated by the end of July and 80 per cent vaccinated by the middle of next year, a level that should curb disease spread in a community.
But the uptake of vaccinations in China has been slow due to a low risk of infection.
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“To build herd immunity protection faster, Daxing district is fully promoting the vaccination campaign,” the district’s cybersecurity administration said on its WeChat account.
“Starting from 24 March, Daxing will provide over 200 million yuan in shopping discounts to those who have completed their two Covid-19 vaccine shots.”
The district said 28 supermarkets would give shopping vouchers to customers who could show that they had completed the vaccination process.
However, conditions will apply. For example, customers will have to spend a minimum of 100 yuan to qualify for discounts.
About 1.15 million doses had been administered in Daxing as of Wednesday, with over 73 per cent of the district’s adults already receiving their first jab, according to the notice.
Daxing is home to Beijing’s newest international airport and has had at least two coronavirus outbreaks in the past year, with dozens of cases in one cluster last year.
The announcement follows the municipal government’s vow last week to speed up vaccinations and look at ways to encourage inoculation. As part of that push, major cities in China including Beijing and Shanghai have expanded vaccination to foreigners.
Several Chinese health experts, including respiratory disease specialist Zhong Nanshan and Shanghai doctor Zhang Wenhong, have said the vaccination rate in China is still too low, making it a challenge to reach herd immunity.
In Daxing on Wednesday, a Jiajia Jili supermarket customer service representative said three of the chain’s stores were taking part in the promotion and customers were already interested.
“I took about three dozen calls today from customers asking about this. It’s only the first day of the promotion, so we don’t know how many vouchers have been given away yet,” he said.
Beijing resident Trevor Zhao said he had taken the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine and did not need an incentive to do so.
“I got vaccinated purely for the sake of vaccination, to protect myself and others. If it cost me money I would have still had it. These little discounts wouldn’t have affected whether I had the vaccine or not,” he said.
Beijing had administered more than 10 million vaccine doses to 6.66 million people as of March 14, according to the municipal government.
Shanghai’s municipal government said that from the end of March, foreign residents who were part of China’s medical insurance programme could get the jabs for free, while others could pay 100 yuan per dose.
Beijing has also opened the border wider to overseas arrivals, granting visas to visitors who have taken a Chinese vaccine, according to various Chinese embassies.
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