While Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says that the state is promoting anti-coronavirus vaccinations for the elderly via the help of family doctors, for whom it is planning a 'motivation package', Jaak Aab (Center), Minister for Public Administration - effectively the minister for the regions - adds the government is also continuing to look at other avenues, such as help with other medical costs.
Paying €100 to over-60s who get vaccinated was one of the measures to improve rates presented by the Center Party last week. The prime minister, however, said at a press conference on Tuesday that she doesn't support this policy.
Aab told ETV morning program "Terevisioon" Wednesday that the Center Party, too, has excluded the idea of material motivators for vaccinations alone, but is looking for other attractive options. There have been talks about compensating for dental care or medications. "We are searching for that right option," Aab said.
Aab said that experts also oppose payment-for-vaccination, but motivating by compensating for other expenses is under discussion. In compensating dental care, the law should be amended, Aab said, adding this would take three months.
Kallas said at Tuesday's press conference that the government is in any case discussing additional measures to reach the elderly.
She said: "Additionally motivating family doctors is the tool that should help to persuade them. With family doctors, we are planning a larger vaccination action. What are we doing right now - family doctors and nurses can persuade the elderly because they are the people who they are listening to in health care questions."
The prime minister said she opposes paying money directly to people on the grounds that other countries' experiences haven't proven the efficacy of so doing.
"There are several problems. First, vaccinating is a moral responsibility, second, the fact that we have people who are afraid of the side effects, and scientists are saying that this makes them hesitate even more," Kallas added.
She pointed out that the development of a motivation package would further slow down the pace of vaccination, as people would wait for the package rather than missing out, thus slowing the process.
Providing inducements may also run into legal issues, including the fact that it would provide unequal treatment to the same demographic, i.e. over 60s who had not yet been vaccinated, months after the option to do so emerged, would effectively be rewarded for holding off whereas those who had got vaccinated early on would not receive any material reward.
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte