Australia’s top doctor is urging the government to introduce incentives such as cash, lotteries or discounts, to encourage more people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. It comes as a study last week found nearly one-third of Australians don’t intend to get the jab.
Speaking to the media on Monday afternoon, Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s chief medical officer, said the government needed to find new ways to encourage people. So far, only about 3.6 million vaccines have been administered in Australia — well behind the 286 million doses in United States and the 60.6 million doses in United Kingdom.
“If you are in a group that has been offered the vaccine, please do not hesitate,” Kelly said at the press conference. “Do not wait until the end of the year.
“I think we really do need to look for incentives, as many incentives as we can. Some of these incentives will be talked about in coming days and weeks, but I think the main incentive is because it’s going to actually protect you, your family and the community.”
It’s not clear as yet what sort of incentives Australia would adopt, however some countries such as the US have introduced things such as lottery schemes to get more people onboard. Free beer, doughnuts and veggies have also been up for grabs. Meanwhile, in Serbia, people are being offered the equivalent of $40 just to get their first dose of the vaccine.
Kelly’s comments come after a survey by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed the extent of Australia’s vaccination hesitancy, with almost a third of those surveyed saying they won’t be getting the jab. The survey showed that doubts around the vaccine were stronger now than they were in February this year and September last year, before reports emerged regarding a link between the AstraZeneca jab and blood clots.
In early April, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a warning that the AstraZeneca vaccine may cause extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots. The announcement prompted the government to cease giving the vaccine to under-50s, and forced the country to rely solely on the imported Pfizer vaccine for younger age groups.
It also comes just a day after the federal government promised two million Pfizer doses each week from the start of October, meaning every Australian who wants to get the jab could have both doses by the end of December. The new details about the Pfizer supply will not doubt reassure over-50s concerned about the AstraZeneca jab.