ZURICH: Switzerland is offering gift certificates to people who persuade others to be jabbed against COVID-19, the government said on Friday (Oct 1), part of efforts to increase the country's low vaccination rate.
Every newly vaccinated person will be asked to name one person who convinced them to be inoculated, the government said, with that person receiving a 50 Swiss franc (US$53.68) gift token for their assistance.
Local authorities will decide where the voucher can be used, for instance at cinemas or restaurants.
"Everyone can help to convince a friend, neighbour, work colleague or family member of the benefits of vaccination," the government said. "This cooperation of the population should be rewarded."
Switzerland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe, with only 58 per cent of the country's 8.7 million population fully vaccinated.
The country has received 11.9 million vaccine doses so far, and administered 10.4 million doses. There have been numerous protests against the vaccination campaign by anti-vaxxer groups.
Although the number of coronavirus cases is declining in Switzerland, the government said the situation in intensive care wards remains tense.
Given the high number of non-immune individuals and the highly contagious Delta variant, there is still a significant risk of another wave of infection during autumn and winter months, which could place a heavy burden on hospitals, it added.
The government, which will spend 150 million francs on the campaign, plans a national vaccination week, with 170 mobile vaccination centres.
Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein have reported more than 840,000 cases of COVID-19, with 10,713 deaths.