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Herd immunity: Philippine mayor hopes cow raffle will boost Covid-19 jabs

The mayor of a rural town in the Philippines has come up with a bovine solution for Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in his farming community -- a cow raffle. Starting in July, anyone who gets a shot in San Luis in the northern province of Pampanga will go into a monthly draw for a cow worth about 30,000 pesos ($624), Mayor Jayson Sagum told AFP. The raffle will be held for a year, which Sagum hopes will be long enough to get most adults in the town of 60,000 people vaccinated. "For us to attain our goal, we have to think of a strategy. And we know Filipinos like a game of chance," said Sagum, who hopes to find donors willing to provide or pay for the beasts. Only three percent of San Luis residents have received a jab, mainly due to the lack of supply, he said, and surveys show about half of town's elderly are worried about getting the vaccine due to reports of adverse side-effects. Officials had considered using giveaways of cash, food packs or even jewellery to motivate people to get the jab. In the end, a bovine prize was seen as more appropriate in a community where most people are involved in rice, duck and tilapia fish farming. "Cattle are the perfect fit for us," he said, adding the raffles will be livestreamed on the town's social media pages. "They want something with excitement." Winners will be allowed to keep the cattle to use on their farms or slaughter them and share the meat with the community, he said. Low confidence in vaccines is a major problem across the Philippines after the botched rollout of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in 2016 led to unfounded claims that children had died from the shot. A recent survey showed about 60 percent of Filipinos were unwilling to be inoculated against Covid-19. The Philippines has the second highest coronavirus caseload in Southeast Asia, with more than 1.2 million infections. It began a vaccination drive in March, but the pace has been glacial due to delayed deliveries and fears over vaccine safety.

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