Residents of Lääne-Harju municipality who complete their coronavirus vaccination course between now and year-end a ten-euro gift voucher, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Monday night. The social affairs ministry meanwhile says that local authorities are best placed for making the decision on exactly how to boost vaccination rates in their locale.
Municipality elder Jaanus Saat said: "Naturally, this is not the best option; we ideally do not want to have to induce people to get vaccinated using such things, but right now, unfortunately, we are in this situation and we have to come up with some kind of bonuses. This is one such bonus."
The gift card is redeemable at pharmacies, while the municipality is to cover the cost.
Heidi Alasepp, Undersecretary for Health at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said that local government can contribute to saving lives best, as thing stand.
She said: "Maybe this doesn't eed to be inducement via gifts or welfare. But if more people get vaccinated thanks to this help, then so be it. Let's be honest - Estonia did not need this third wave to happen, in this way. Vaccines are available."
The concept has been discussed at national level, but has been ruled not appropriate at this stage.
Close to 13,000 people live in Lääne-Harju municipality, while less than 60 percent municipality residents have completed a course of vaccination – approximately the national average.
The municipality has been organizing mass vaccinations both in schools and elsewhere, but has still found insufficient uptake, AK reported.
One resident of Paldiski, one of the municipalities least-vaccinated places, told AK that the initiative might work, adding that she knew many who had not yet gotten the shot.
"It seems to me that those people who don't want to get sick, die, endanger others," the resident, Galina, told AK, adding that if a doctor was on hand this would be particularly reassuring for older people, many of whom fear side-effects.
The scheme rolled-out Monday and runs to the end of this year, AK reported.
The municipality says it will decide at year-end whether it will continue into the new year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte