Covid: Bihar district sets up lottery bait for vaccination

Sheohar DM Sajjan Raja Sekar (in blue suit) at the prize distribution programme of the Covid-19 vaccination weekly lottery scheme

The district administration in Bihar’s Sheohar has started a lottery scheme to encourage people aged above 45 to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

Under the scheme, six people from among those who take the vaccine — one each from the five blocks in the district and one from the town area — will get prizes, including valuables and consumer durables every week.

The move, initiated by Sheohar district magistrate Sajjan Raja Sekar, has started showing results.

“This is not a new idea,” Sajjan told The Telegraph.

“I read about incentives being given to people in a fishing village close to the Kovalam beach in Chennai to encourage them to take Covid-19 vaccines. It was successful. So I thought why not implement it on a district level here. We have noticed much hesitancy among people here in taking the shots,” he added.

One of the beneficiaries of the scheme, which rolled out last Saturday (June 5), got a 1gm gold coin while two others got a gas connection set along with a stove.

Water filter, pedestal fan and a suitcase were also awarded to others whose name came up in the lottery draw.

“We have engaged the district chamber of commerce, banks, gas agencies, medical stores, jewellers and civil society organisations as sponsors to provide the gifts. Many of them wanted to give us cash, but we refused and asked them to give us consumer durables if they wanted to help. We will conduct weekly draws,” the Sheohar district magistrate said.

The district administration did not publicise the scheme as it did not want to send forth a message that people should get themselves vaccinated only to avail an opportunity to win the lottery. However, information about the scheme spread through word of mouth and various communication mediums.

There was a lot of hesitancy among people above 45 years of age here in the district in taking the vaccine.

Though Sheohar is on top among the districts as far as vaccination is concerned, only around 60,000 people have taken the shots so far from among the projected 1.6 lakh people above 45 years who need to be vaccinated.

“The lottery incentive is showing results. The Rashidpur slum area in Sheohar town was resisting the vaccination drive and nobody there had taken the vaccine. However, a lady from there got a gas connection, cylinder and stove in the lottery and now many people from the area have expressed willingness to take the vaccine.

“We are now planning to send the ‘vaccine express’ (a mobile vaccination SUV) there,” Sajjan said.

An official involved in the vaccination programme said the lottery scheme was going to be successful and would prompt people to come and take the shots.

“Such out-of-the-box measures are needed to encourage people to take the Covid-19 vaccines. Various rumours are keeping them away despite the fact that the shots are for their safety.

“We are witnessing an increase in the number of people turning up at the vaccination centres this week,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.

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