Get a shot in the arm and win a calf

As Thailand rolled out its national vaccination program last week, health officials were concerned about reaching remote tribal villagers to protect them from Covid-19. And so in one province, they mimicked an American strategy to draw the unvaccinated to clinics: give out rewards, with one rural outpost offering a milk calf as a prize.

According to the Bangkok Post newspaper, a one-month-old calf was tied to a pole outside Mae Chaem district office in northern Chiang Mai province as proof of the top prize. Only those who have received the inoculation were eligible to enter the raffle sponsored by the district office.

Mae Cham is a mountainous area near the country’s border. As is typical of border areas, the population contains a kaleidoscope of ethnic tribal groups living in remote communities. Trips to provincial hospitals take time due to distance.

To address the challenge, Chiang Mai Governor Provincial governor Charoenrit Sanguansat established a vaccination unit at Mae Tuen Hospital, which is not far from several remote communities.

Health officials in other provinces have yet to offer prizes for getting vaccinated, but the national vaccination program still has a long way to proceed. There might be other incentives for others to sign up for inoculation for the time to come.