Vaxlotto: where everyone’s a winner - Grattan Institute

Australia is running stone, cold, motherless last in the global vaccine race among wealthy nations. This has to change, and quickly.

We are all losers if we don’t achieve high vaccination rates, because of lockdowns and travel restrictions. We are all winners if we get to a high vaccination rate. And we can improve our position by launching a national lottery – with 10 $1 million prizes every week – for people who are vaccinated.

The fewer people vaccinated, the more the virus spreads. Our poor national vaccination status made it easier for the deadly Delta variant, and prolonged the lockdowns. If we can get vaccinations up, lockdowns can be a thing of the past and borders can reopen.

But to end lockdowns and open up, we need three things to be fixed. 

First, the Federal Government must ensure that the promised vaccines actually arrive.

At the moment, demand for vaccines – especially Pfizer – exceeds supply. Our decision last year not to follow other countries and order a big mix of vaccine options is costing us today.

But the Government has successfully negotiated new deals, so large quantities of vaccines are now flowing into the country. The Prime Minister and Lieutenant General John Frewen and his team must ensure there is no break in that flow.

Second, vaccines need to get off the pallets and into arms.

Logistics has been a major problem to date, but with the mass vaccination hubs now up and running, GPs able to give Pfizer shots, and pharmacies at last coming on board, the jab seeker’s options are better than ever.

The Government simply has to ensure that the right numbers of doses get to the right vaccination sites. Dan Murphy’s and Amazon can get large-scale logistics right. Our national government should be able to do the same.

Other ways to make it easier for people to get vaccinated should be on the table too. The Government should give free vaccines to big companies so they can vaccinate their employees at work. And now that a vaccine is approved for 12-to-15 year-olds, schools should be added to the list of jab sites.

Third, we need to mobilise the population to get vaccinated, and vaccinated quickly.

Every extra person vaccinated, even with their first dose, makes it a little bit harder for the virus to circulate, and makes it a bit little less likely that all of us will have to endure another lockdown – with all the economic, social, and emotional pain that that entails.

Surveys show almost two thirds of Australians want to get vaccinated right now, but can’t because of supply problems. But those supply problems should soon be over. Come October, these people should be able to get their jab.

A further 27 per cent of Australians say they will get vaccinated, but not just yet. That group has decreased from 40 per cent four months ago. We need to move that group into the ‘right now’ column ASAP.

Grattan Institute is proposing a ‘Vaxlotto’ to speed up vaccinations. What we suggest is, starting on Melbourne Cup Day – November 2 – and then every week until the Tuesday before Christmas, everyone who is vaccinated will have a chance to win one of 10 $1 million lottery prizes each week, just for having been vaccinated. With one jab you’ll have 10 chances to win $1 million each week; people who get fully vaccinated will double their chances.

Vaxlotto would cost $80 million – a tiny fraction of the cost of one day of lockdown in any of our capital cities. And a chance at $1 million is a huge incentive to shift someone who said they will be vaccinated some time into the ‘I’ll get vaccinated right now’ column.

About 11 per cent of Australians say they will never get vaccinated. But even some of them might if getting the jab means a chance to win Vaxlotto.

The benefits of dramatically increasing vaccination rates are enormous. Lockdowns would be a thing of the past, stranded Aussies would be able to come home, and we could travel and go to major events – as well as to our favourite café, pub, and restaurant – again. 

The path out of lockdowns and back to freedom requires almost all of us to be vaccinated. Let’s get there quicker by launching Vaxlotto. What could be more Australian?

Stephen Duckett

Health and Aged Care Program Director
Dr Stephen Duckett has held top operational and policy leadership positions in health care in Australia and Canada, including as Secretary of what is now the Commonwealth Department of Health.    

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