The Swiss government is stepping up efforts to convince residents to get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.
It has decided to launch a week-long information campaign in several languages across the country next month in a bid to speed up vaccinations. However, it has dropped the idea, presented earlier this month, of giving CHF50 ($54) vouchers to people who manage to convince others to get the jab.
Switzerland has one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. Just over 60% of the population over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, according to official data.
A new wave of infections and overcapacity at hospitals over winter could be avoided only by a substantial increase in the number of vaccinated people, Interior Minister Alain Berset told a news conference on Wednesday.
He said Switzerland – with a population of 8.7 million – could compete with its neighbours only if an additional one million people got the jabs.
As part of the offensive, carried out by national, cantonal and local authorities and other partners, the government also wants to boost the number of information buses and individual counselling through social media, telephone contact or face-to-face meetings.
The government has earmarked up to CHF96.2 million for the campaign.
It is estimated that the total costs of the special information campaign outweigh the costs of continuing to offer free Covid-19 tests. Since Monday coronavirus testing for most asymptomatic people is no longer free.
The issue of vaccinations and extending the use of a Covid certificate – for vaccinated people, patients who have recovered or people who have tested negative – has caused public controversy over the past few months.
Swiss voters have the final say about the use of the Covid certificate in a referendum on November 28.
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