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Slovakia eyes bonus to boost vaccinations for 60 and overs

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Slovakia’s government has proposed a plan to give people 60 and older a 500-euro ($568) bonus if they get vaccinated against COVID-19

BRATISLAVA, SLovakia — Slovakia’s government has proposed a plan to give people 60 and older a 500-euro ($568) bonus if they get vaccinated against COVID-19, the finance minister said Wednesday.

The measure, announced by Finance Minister Igor Matovic, should boost inoculations in the European Union country with one of the bloc’s lowest vaccination rates. So far, only 46.1% of the nation’s 5.5 million people have been fully vaccinated.

The bill will now go to Parliament. It would need some opposition support to be approved.

The bonus would be a voucher that could be used in restaurants, cafes, hotels or to buy tickets for sports, theater, cinema, exhibitions or concerts. It could be also used to pay hairdressers or fitness centers.

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Matovic said the money from the state will also mean “hundreds million euros of extra help for the sectors that are the hardest hit” by the pandemic due to government restrictions.

A total of 1.2 million people who reach 60 this year and older could be eligible. The Finance Ministry expects the measure would cost about 500 million euros ($568 million).

A total of 3,380 COVID-19 patients in Slovakia needed hospital treatment on Tuesday, which is well above the 3,000-bed level considered critical by Slovakia’s Health Ministry. Almost 85% of them haven’t been fully vaccinated, the ministry said.

Overall, Slovakia has registered almost 700,000 infected people with 14,503 deaths.

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