Poland has launched a lottery for people getting a shot of a COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine, with prizes of up to PLN1mn (€222,000).
By offering prizes, the government hopes to encourage more people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, as the vaccination programme has been limping recently.
Some 35% of Poland’s population has been fully vaccinated against coronavirus to date, the government says on its dedicated vaccination website.
Experts say that in order to reach herd immunity at least 70% of the population must be vaccinated. If the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus becomes dominant in Poland – which could happen as soon as in a few weeks, the government believes – the threshold of herd immunity could become even higher.
Anything that could increase the number of the vaccinated is "invaluable,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said, the state newswire PAP reported. "We must do everything to ensure that the number of vaccinations increases dynamically, as we are all aware that interest is slowly decreasing," Niedzielski said.
Every day starting on July 1, every 500th person to receive a jab will get a cash prize of PLN200 while every 2,000th person will win PLN500, according to the lottery rules. Every week for three months until the end of September, the government will give away five prizes of PLN50,000 and 720 electric scooters.
Each month, there will be two prizes of PLN100,000 and two Toyota Corolla cars up for grabs. The final two winners will scoop PLN1mn and a Toyota CH-R each.
The government will also give money to local governments that will vaccinate the most people – with the top prize PLN2mn.
Starting on July 1, the government is facilitating access to vaccination by rolling out mobile vaccination points to offer jabs during events and reaching out to people over 70 in their homes.
Anyone looking to get a second dose will also be able to get it anywhere in Poland. Right now, the first and second doses must be administered in the same location, typically a local healthcare centre.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on Poland with nearly 2.9mn cases, including 75,044 deaths. In terms of the economy, the pandemic led to a recession of 2.7% in 2020. Recovery of around 4%-5% is expected this year.
Poland had Europe’s highest number of “excess” deaths last year, compared to the average from the few years before the onset of the pandemic. At times, it also suffered one of Europe’s highest coronavirus death rates per 1mn people.
The number of new cases has been dropping recently. There only were 98 new cases as of July 1, the health ministry said in its daily report. Seven people died.
The government is worried, however, that the return of colder weather and the waning interest in vaccinations will lead to a new surge of the pandemic even as early as August.