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COVID vaccination: Free choice of vaccine and vouchers can motivate the unvaccinated to get vaccinated

A study of MedUni Wien surveyed the most popular incentives in Austria, Germany and Switzerland
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(Vienna, 27-09-2021) Approximately 63 % of the total population (status 15 September 2021) in Austria have been vaccinated at least once against the Corona virus. However, the daily number of people vaccinated for the first time has decreased significantly during the past months. At the same time, the occupancy of hospital and ICU beds is increasing. In order to prevent or at least contain a new wave, it is important to motivate the currently unvaccinated part of Austria's population to be vaccinated. A current, international study headed by the epidemiologist Eva Schernhammer of the Centre for Public Health of MedUni Wien and in cooperation with the Donau University Krems has now surveyed the most popular incentives for this purpose. The result: Free choice of the vaccine, vouchers or even a lottery can be motivators.

In August 2021, a total of 3,067 people from the D-A-CH-Region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) participated in a survey, among them 1,019 Austrians aged between 18 and 90 years (average age = 48; 90% between 18 and 70 years). Schernhammer: "Using the data collected, we were able to show incentives which can contribute to raise the vaccination rate in the respective population."

In the random sample, 18 % of the participants in Austria (a total of 183 persons) stated that they had not yet been vaccinated against the Corona virus and had not been registered for a vaccination. Their responses revealed that 23.5 % of them would be more likely to get vaccinated if they could freely choose the vaccine, 8.7 percent would do so if they received a voucher and 6.6 percent would do so if they participated in a lottery with winning prizes. Other motivating reasons are: vaccination at the work place (3.8%), free meal after the vaccination (3.3%) and receiving a sticker which makes the vaccination status visible (1.6%). Money, an available Corona oral vaccination and long-term studies were also mentioned as incentives.

A curious detail on the side: 15.8 % stated that they were more likely willing to be vaccinated if the vaccination were free of charge – but that is precisely the case in all of these countries. It is not yet clear from the data whether all people really know that vaccination is free and that the type of vaccine is self-selectable in most states. Schernhammer: "There is obviously a lack of information here."

The ability to choose the vaccine appeared to be particularly attractive to those with higher educational qualifications, while the receipt of a voucher and the participation in a lottery was attractive for less educated and younger persons (18-35 years of age). In Switzerland and Germany, the distribution of the mentioned incentives was largely similar.

Schernhammer and Steiner summarise: "The results of this survey clearly show that a significant part of the currently unvaccinated people in Austria could be motivated to become vaccinated by respective incentives."

Health and COVID-19 Survey in the D-A-CH Region (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland)
Authors: Eva Schernhammer, Jakob Weitzer and Gerald Steiner for the team of the 'Transatlantic Research Lab on Complex Societal Challenges’ – an initiative of MedUni Wien, Donau University Krems, the Complexity Science Hub Vienna, the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI), Arizona State University (ASU), Santa Fe Institute (SFI), Harvard University, Global Climate Forum and TU Bergakademie Freiberg.

Information website from MedUni Vienna on corona vaccination: