PRAGUE (Reuters) – Slovakia will launch a lottery with weekly prizes of up to 2 million euros for vaccinated people and offer bonuses to those who convince others to get COVID-19 shots to boost interest under a plan approved by parliament on Friday.
Slovakia, a country of 5.5 million, has fully vaccinated 28.7% of the population, lagging the EU average of 32.9%, according to the Our World in Data website.
Data from the country’s vaccination registration process shows a declining number of people waiting for a first shot as well as a decline in daily vaccinations from a May peak.
The proposal by the biggest ruling party, Ordinary People (OLANO), offers people the opportunity to take part in the lottery once after each shot.
Separately, each Slovak who convinces another to get inoculated will receive between 30 and 90 euros when that person gets fully vaccinated, with the bonus amount rising with the age of the vaccinated person.
“Because another wave of the pandemic can be expected in the autumn…it is necessary to develop maximum effort to increase the public’s interest in vaccination,” authors of the proposal said in a document supporting the plan.
Governments in Europe have raised the alarm due to the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, first found in India. Low vaccination rates raise the danger of a resurgence of the virus in the parts of populations that are not protected.
More transmissible viruses not only raise the speed of an epidemic’s spread but also the threshold needed for the population to be protected by collective immunity.
The Slovak government will from July 9 require unvaccinated people to quarantine upon arrival from anywhere abroad, with exemptions for people commuting for work and children aged 12 to 18, who have until August 9 to get vaccinated.
From this month, non-vaccinated people also must take a PCR test when attending public events, weddings or aquaparks.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)