BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) – The Slovak Parliament on Thursday approved a plan to give people aged 60 and over up to 300 euros ($ 339) if they are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The measure developed by Finance Minister Igor Matovic is expected to boost vaccinations in the European Union country with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the bloc. It should also help the struggling healthcare system amid a record wave of new infections.
So far, only 46.5% of the country’s 5.5 million people have been fully immunized.
In the 97-13 vote, lawmakers agreed that those who received at least one primary dose of the vaccine by January 15 will receive 200 euros ($ 226) in cash, and those who received a booster by that date will receive 300 euros. . .
The deal is a compromise because the current quadripartite coalition in power in Slovakia was divided on the issue.
The original plan was to give people vouchers worth 500 euros that could be used in certain businesses, but it encountered opposition from the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party.
Slovakia is facing a record wave of infections, making it one of the hardest hit in the world.
The country has been in lockdown since November 25, with citizens only allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons. Those who are not vaccinated and have not recovered from COVID-19 must get tested for the virus to get to work. Only stores selling basic necessities remained open.
As of Friday, the government agreed to ease the lockdown on those vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from COVID-19.
Currently, 3,419 people are hospitalized in Slovakia, putting pressure on the healthcare system. If the number reaches 3,800, the government plans to impose more restrictions.
Slovakia has reported more than 757,000 coronavirus cases and 15,179 deaths from the pandemic.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic