Getting the Covid-19 jab could come with the added bonus of being a cool $1 million richer, with the proposed introduction of a vaccination lottery in an attempt to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
The 'VaxLotto' is a proposed incentive to make sure Australia achieves an 80 per cent vaccination rate before the end of 2021, a number that experts say will allow the country to return to normal.
A newly released Grattan Institute report, titled 'Race to 80', acknowledges that there is no "magic" number of vaccines to eradicate the threat of Covid forever, but suggests if enough Australians are vaccinated, it can ‘tame’ the deadly virus.
As Covid-19 case numbers continue to surge in NSW, the push to get Australians vaccinated is ramping up. However, not everyone wants the jab. To combat this, the Grattan Institute proposed a plan for a vaccination lottery — offering 10 jackpots of $1 million every week over an eight week period for vaccinated Australians only.
According to the report, fully vaccinating 80 per cent of all Australians, and 95 per cent of the over-70s population, will be the best chance of gradually returning to normal life – with open borders and no lockdowns.
Once 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, the report suggests we can shift our focus from containing Covid to ‘living with Covid’, focusing less on cases and more on hospitalisations and deaths.
What is 'VaxLotto' and how does it work?
The “VaxLotto” is an incentive initiated by the Grattan Institute that would run weekly from the Melbourne Cup Day (November 2) for eight weeks to increase vaccination rates and dispel vaccination hesitancy.
Every vaccinated Australian would be in the draw each week (as well as people with a medical exemption to vaccination). People who have received one jab would have one chance each week and people who are fully vaccinated would have two.
Re-opening prematurely could have 'dire' consequences
According to the report, abandoning the "zero Covid strategy" before 80 per cent of Australians are vaccinated would risk a rapid surge in Covid cases that would overwhelm hospitals and result in a high death toll.
Even if 75 per cent of the population is vaccinated, the health system could still be overwhelmed. A scenario in the report saying if a Delta variant with a reproduction number of 6 (R6) were to spread, it would likely cause 320 deaths if all restrictions were dropped, with hospitals treating up to 160 ICU patients a day.
"Failure is not an option," the report says. "It is Australia’s best shot at living with Covid."
All Australian governments will have to 'step up'
An 80 per cent vaccination rate could be achieved by the end of the year if a vaccine becomes available for children aged under 12. However, it warns if there are delays in vaccinations, the goal could be delayed until March.
"We have the means to get there by the end of the year, or soon after," the report says. "We have the public willingness to get there – about 90 per cent of Australians say they plan to get vaccinated."
Currently, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has only approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 18. The AstraZeneca jab is approved for all adults.
The institute also called on governments to immediately accelerate the vaccine rollout by turning workplaces, schools and community centres into makeshift vaccine hubs ahead of large Pfizer shipments in October.
The report also lists expanding vaccination hubs, adding more outlets, and providing transport vouchers for people who want help to get to a hub or outlet to speed up the process, as well as rolling out on-site vaccinations at workplaces when there is enough supply for all.
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