Austria to introduce national Covid-19 vaccination lottery

Austria announced on Thursday it will introduce a national lottery to encouraged those still unvaccinated against Covid to get the shots. Winners could land €500 worth of vouchers.

Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer
Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer departs after attending an European Union Summit at the European Council building in Brussels, early on December 17, 2021. (Photo by JOHANNA GERON / POOL / AFP)

The Federal Government announced a new vaccination stimulus package – including a lottery and financial rewards – in a bid to boost the national vaccination rate. 

The announcement was made at a press conference in Vienna with Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP), Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) and SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner ahead of the vote on the mandatory vaccination law (Impfpflicht) in the National Council on Thursday.

“What is there to win in the vaccination lottery? Vouchers!” Chancellor Karl Nehammer told a news conference with the leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, with whom the measure was negotiated, Reuters reported.

The Chancellor said he wanted there to be a financial reward for those who get vaccinated.

“We have learned from the past and we have seen that a vaccination lottery is the best possible way to set up such a system,” he said.

FOR MEMBERS: KEY POINTS: What’s in Austria’s vaccine mandate bill?

Plans for the stimulus package include a lottery (Impflotterie) for vouchers worth €500. The scheme will be rolled out in partnership with ORF, Austria’s national public service broadcaster. 

The lottery will start on March 15th to coincide with the implementation of the planned compulsory vaccination controls and will apply to people that are already vaccinated, as well as those who decide to get their first jabs.

Nehammer said every tenth vaccinated person in Austria will be in with a chance of winning a €500 gift voucher and participants would receive one lottery ticket for every Covid shot they have had. This means if someone has been vaccinated three times including the booster jab they will receive three entries into the lottery.

The vouchers will be valid for a variety of businesses across Austria, including retail, gastronomy, hotels, cultural and sports facilities, although it is expected online shopping will not be included.

READ MORE: Most regions of Austria to accept at-home antigen tests as 3G proof again

The Federal Government also announced an additional financial packages for municipalities to encourage them to boost the vaccinated rate.

Nehammer provided an example of how the incentive would work and said if a municipality with 3,000 inhabitants reaches the 80 percent vaccination target, it would receive €30,000. For 85 percent it would be €60,000 and for 90 percent the amount would rise to €120,000.

The government has set aside a total of €1.4 billion for the scheme – €1 billion for the lottery and €400 million for the financial incentives for municipalities. 

Nehammer described the use of government funds for the vaccination stimulus package as “completely justified”.

READ MORE: PROFILE: Who is Karl Nehammer, Austria’s new chancellor?

Member comments

  1. I think that’s ridiculous,…why should there be an incentive to encourage people, if it’s been made law?

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EXPLAINED: How Austria’s compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

The much-debated policy sparked controversy since before it was approved in February, meaning that May could be a definitive month in the country.

EXPLAINED: How Austria's compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

Austria’s Federal Government has a ticking time bomb on its hands: an ordinance that suspended its vaccine mandate law is set to expire by the end of May, which means that the controversial mandatory vaccination would be again in place as early as June 1st.

In order to keep that from happening, Austria’s Health Ministry needs to extend the current regulation or create a new one.

If it doesn’t, the Covid-19 mandatory vaccination law would automatically be back in June.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s plans to bring back the vaccine mandate?

Since, by June, the vaccine mandate stated that non-vaccinated would start getting fines, the resumption of the law would mean that, from next month, those who are not vaccinated could be fined in routine checks, such as traffic checks.

The ins and outs of the vaccine mandate

The law was first introduced in February, even though the technical requirements for it to be enacted were not in place. The first stage of it was purely “informational”, and Austrian residents received letters explaining about vaccines and about the regulation.

A second stage, when people could have been fined if they were not vaccinated, was set to start in mid-March. Before a single person was fined, though, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) suspended the law with an ordinance.

The law was suspended for a variety of reasons, primarily due to the relatively high vaccination coverage the country had already received, along with the lower virulence of the Omicron variant. 

READ ALSO: Austria to scrap mandatory Covid vaccinations

To create a new regulation or extend the existing one stopping people from being fined, Rauch must await the report of the vaccination commission, which should be ready in May, according to the Ministry.

The coronavirus commission will assess whether the Vaccination Act is suitable and useful from a medical and legal point of view. A previous report said there were arguments for and against mandatory vaccination for those who were completely unvaccinated.

READ ALSO: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

Der Standard reports there is little political support for compulsory vaccination and says there are still technical problems regarding automated fines. However, according to the Ministry of Health, the infrastructure should be completed in June.