Call for million-dollar lotteries, music festival restrictions to shift ‘movable middle’ on vaccination

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A weekly, million-dollar lottery and proof of vaccination for travel and to attend sport or music festivals are among ways the federal government could encourage immunisation as more COVID-19 doses arrive in Australia.

That’s according to the Grattan Institute’s Race to 80 report on how the country can begin to shift away from lockdowns and economically damaging restrictions on travel and business towards COVID-normal in 2022.

Vaccination should be an entry requirement for events including music festivals both as a public health measure and an incentive to get people immunised, Grattan’s Stephen Duckett says.Credit:Edwina Pickles

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also flagged unvaccinated people will face tougher measures than their vaccinated counterparts as the country looks to ease restrictions.

“ … [We] would have to have more restrictions on people who are unvaccinated because they’re a danger to themselves and others,” he said on 3AW on Thursday.

Stephen Duckett, director of the institute’s health program, said surveys including the Resolve Strategic research commissioned by this masthead showed while the number of people saying they wouldn’t get vaccinated had remained stable, those wanting to get vaccinated as soon as possible had grown amid fresh coronavirus outbreaks.

This month’s Resolve Political Monitor showed 12 per cent of people surveyed were not at all likely to get vaccinated, down from 15 per cent in May, while those very likely, extremely likely, booked in to get the jab or already vaccinated rose to 71 per cent from 57 per cent in May.

To date, 3.7 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 8.1 million have received their first dose.

Dr Duckett said the most important group to target was the roughly 20 per cent of the population that was neither here nor there about getting vaccinated – what he called the “movable middle”.

“What you want to do is convert them from ‘it’s not a rush’ to ‘I’m going to get vaccinated tomorrow’,” he said.

A vaccine lottery was a good way to speed that up, Dr Duckett said. The Grattan report suggested holding one every week from Melbourne Cup Day until Christmas, with people automatically entered using the Australian Immunisation Register.

“If you say, if you’re vaccinated by the 2nd of November you’ve got a chance of winning a million dollars, that’s a lot of money for anybody. And it might bring them forward to be vaccinated before November the 2nd,” Dr Duckett said.

Businesses including the country’s airlines have previously flagged they’re looking at ways to encourage vaccinations. Earlier this year, Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said “as many incentives as we can” were needed to get the country immunised.

Once the country had vaccinated 80 per cent of Australians and borders could begin to reopen, Australian governments should require proof of full vaccination for any domestic flights and attendance at major events including sports matches and concerts, the Grattan report said.

It also said fully vaccinated Australians should be given priority for overseas travel as a strong incentive for others to get immunised.

Dr Duckett said making vaccinations a condition of travel or entry to events had a double effect: it offered protection against unvaccinated people spreading the virus in crowded areas and an incentive to get immunised.

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