Incentives and rewards should accompany compulsory vaccination in Austria

As of: 01/20/2022 3:41 p.m

In Austria, compulsory corona vaccination is to be decided in parliament today. In addition, the government wants to create financial incentives for immunization – including with a lottery.

Never since the beginning of the pandemic have so many new infections been reported in Austria as on the day before the vote in the Austrian Parliament on general corona vaccination: more than 27,000 in 24 hours. The seven-day incidence is nearly 1,500 cases per 100,000 population.

Immediately before the vote on the introduction of compulsory vaccination, an incentive and reward package was agreed – this is intended to further increase the vaccination rate. The coalition of the ÖVP and the Greens agreed on this with the opposition SPÖ.

Not just a duty, but also a reward

“I’m really glad that we were able to decide on the issue of rewards and incentives in a broad consensus in Parliament today, in addition to the issue of duty,” said Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer. Among other things, a vaccination fleet is planned, in which vouchers worth 500 euros will be raffled off among vaccinated people. In addition, municipalities should receive financial aid, the amount of which depends on the vaccination rate in the respective municipality.

In the vaccination fleet, every tenth person vaccinated should have a chance of winning. This applies to those who have already been vaccinated and also to those who are yet to be vaccinated. The vouchers worth 500 euros should be redeemable at Austrian companies – in retail, gastronomy, hotels, cultural and sports facilities.

Financial incentives for communities

There should be a financial incentive system for the municipalities. With a vaccination rate of 80 percent, a base amount totaling 75 million euros will be distributed, with 85 percent it will be 150 million and with 90 percent 300 million euros will be distributed.

As an example, according to the Austrian news agency APA, Nehammer gave an average community with 3,000 inhabitants, which would receive 30,000 euros with a vaccination rate of 80 percent, 60,000 euros with 85 percent and 120,000 euros with 90 percent. The money distributed can then be invested in kindergartens, playgrounds or other municipal tasks.

So far, around 70 percent of Austrians have been fully vaccinated. This puts the country in line with the EU average, but a few percentage points behind Italy and France. The remaining 30 percent are to be persuaded by compulsory vaccination, which will apply to everyone over the age of 18 from the beginning of February.

Vaccination checks from mid-March at the earliest

Parliament plans to vote on the government’s proposed vaccination bill later today. Before the vote, he had already been weakened for a majority: the age was increased, penalties – theoretically up to 3600 euros – are not in the foreground, are socially cushioned. It will be checked from mid-March at the earliest.

90 percent vaccination rate is the – unofficial – goal. If the corona situation is defused, the obligation to vaccinate can quickly be dropped again. There should be exceptions to the vaccination requirement for pregnant women and for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Young people are also exempt from the regulation.

A large majority is expected in Parliament. The governing parties ÖVP and Greens have agreed on the draft law with the social democratic SPÖ and the liberal Neos. Only the right-wing populist FPÖ strictly rejects compulsory vaccination.

Since the project was announced in November, tens of thousands have regularly taken to the streets at weekends to protest against the planned compulsory vaccination. Yesterday the government announced it would set up “security zones” around health facilities and vaccination centers so police can turn away anyone “causing trouble”, including protesters.

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