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14th Apr 2024

Romania tries meal-vouchers and lottery in vaccination push

  • Romania has one of the lowest vaccination-rates in the EU, pushing authorities to sell or donate millions of jabs - to avoid unused stocks hitting their expiration date (Photo: www.freeimages.co.uk)
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Romanian authorities are hoping meal vouchers worth 100 RON (€20) and the opportunity to enter a lottery with cash prizes for those vaccinated against Covid-19 will convince more people to get the jab.

The emergency ordinance approved by the government stipulates that people who get vaccinated can receive the meal vouchers.

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In order to qualify for the 100 RON food allowance you need to be fully-vaccinated with either both doses or a single dose - depending on the vaccine administered. The meal vouches will be distributed through vaccination centres, family doctors' practices and specialised outpatient clinics.

In a press conference, the Romanian healthcare minister, Ioana Mihaila, said national lotteries will also be organised for those who received or will get the jab. This is intended to work as an additional incentive to reward and speed up Covid-19 vaccination.

The lotteries will consist of cash prizes and only those fully vaccinated can enroll, with the first such lottery taking place in October.

The emergency ordinance does not provide additional details on the prizes at hand, only that vaccinated people need to register on the governmental website from where they also download their EU Digital Covid Certificate.

As opposed to the meal voucher reward system, the lottery plan will target all the people already fully-vaccinated, not just those who do so from now on.

Before coming into force, the Romanian prime minister said the measures were so "we will continue to make every effort to convince citizens that the solution to getting rid of the pandemic is vaccination. We are looking for ways to continue the vaccination campaign and to motivate people to get immunised."

Plateauing

This comes at a time when the vaccination campaign appears to be stuck a in a deadlock, as Romanians' interest in immunization declined dramatically.

With daily reports of just a few thousand people going to vaccination clinics in a country of 20 million, authorities are looking for ways to revive the almost standstill immunization campaign.

Speaking to EUobserver, Andrei Baciu, secretary of state in the Ministry of Health said the government believes the measures will stimulate vaccination.

"It is a project that aims to boost vaccination efforts. Different stimulation models have been used in several countries both at European and global level.

"In Romania, we will focus on the two main measures: the vaccination lottery, accessible to anyone who got and will get vaccinated, and meal vouchers for all those who will get the vaccine."

Late last month, the head of National Steering Committee for Vaccination Activities against Covid-19 (CNCAV) expressed some caution regarding the now-approved vaccination stimulus measures, saying "personally, I am sceptical that these measures will have a significant impact," adding that people need to understand the simple medical benefits of vaccination.

Romania has one of the lowest vaccination-rates in the EU, pushing authorities to sell an excess of around two million vaccines, and donate close to another one million - to avoid unused stocks from hitting their expiration date.

As some Romanian citizens avoid the vaccine, a market for fake certificates has emerged.

This week, the ministry of internal affairs announced an investigation into a network of counterfeiters who sold fake vaccination certificates for €100 on the messaging app Telegram.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

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