Ukraine woos vaccine-wary with cash incentive

Published November 16, 2021, 11:32 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that people will be offered a cash incentive to get double-vaccinated against Covid-19 in a bid to boost the country’s low inoculation rate.

“Everyone who has had two doses will be able to receive 1,000 hryvnias” or around 35 euros ($40), Zelenksy said in video message, a sizeable sum for the citizens of one of Europe’s poorest countries and where fewer than a third of the population has been fully vaccinated.

The money could be used to buy a sports club membership, tickets for the cinema, theatre or a museum, or go towards a train or plane ticket for a journey within Ukraine, the president said.

“These are the sectors that have been hardest hit by the lockdowns,” Zelenksy said.

The government is expected to approve 200 million euros in the coming months for the scheme which will be launched on December 19.

The former Soviet republic recorded 442 deaths from coronavirus in the past 24 hours on Monday, the second-highest number of new deaths in the world after Russia, which reported 1,211.

The country of 45 million people is currently experiencing its worst-ever wave of the pandemic, driven mainly by the more infectious Delta variant and a high degree of vaccine scepticism among the population.

Authorities have tried to boost the vaccination by imposing restrictions on people who are not vaccinated, such as the requirement for a vaccine certificate for some public spaces.

But according to health ministry data, only 28 percent of Ukrainians have received two vaccine doses.

“We have passed the peak of this wave” of the pandemic, Zelensky nevertheless insisted.

In all, Ukraine has recorded 3.2 million cases since the start of the pandemic and more than 77,000 deaths.