Australians who receive the COVID-19 vaccine could be eligible for huge travel incentives under a plan put forward by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
Qantas, which has had its business largely grounded since the COVID-19 pandemic declaration in March 2020, is hoping free flights, points and credits will encourage Australians to get vaccinated.
"We are looking at giving 1000 points flight vouchers, credits and we are going to offer ten mega prizes, at least one for each state and territory, where a family of four get unlimited travel on the Qantas and Jetstar network, anywhere in the network for a year," Joyce told Today.
The prize program will launch in July, with up to 10 families to receive free travel for a year. Qantas first flagged the vaccine prize plan last week.
Hotel business Accor Group is working with Qantas to offer free accommodation to the winning families.
"We are trying our best to help with this rollout - it will be retrospective and will include anyone who has already been vaccinated and will apply to anybody that is vaccinated until the end of 2021," Joyce said.
The carrier plans to resume international flights by the end of the year, however Australia has so far failed to meet its vaccination schedule.
As of Friday, 473,000 people have been vaccinated in Australia, or around 1.9 per cent of the population.
Joyce said corporate Australia has a bigger role to play in promoting the vaccine rollout.
"I'm encouraging a 'Team Australia' moment where every corporate out there helps with this vaccine rollout and to reward people that have had the vaccine," he said.
It comes as Victoria grapples with a worsening COVID-19 outbreak which has sent the state into a seven day lockdown.
Vaccine incentives urged
Greater incentives to get vaccinated would improve the rollout, however the incentives need to be targeted appropriately, Griffith University researchers Sameer Deshpande and Joy Parkinson said.
They noted that in America, New York has offered free tickets to city attractions, while Alabama has offered two laps around the Talladega Superspeedway for vaccinated residents.
Some organisations like supermarket chain Publix have offered vaccinated employees a US$125 gift card, while Uber and Lyft have offered free rides to and from vaccination hubs.
“Although it is too early to tell us how well these incentives are working, research on other vaccines has shown financial incentives increase adherence seven-fold,” the researchers said.
“It’s vital to listen to the public. Australians love fun, sport, spending time with family and friends, and travelling. Any incentive or strategy should consider these values.”
They suggested Australia consider offering free food and drinks as a way of encouraging younger and less at-risk people to get vaccinated.
For other groups, gradually imposing barriers on recreational events like sporting games, festivals and shows for unvaccinated people would also work to incentivise vaccine takeup.
It’s also important that Australians have easy access to the vaccine, with the researchers calling for mobile vaccination vans at public transport hubs and on-site vaccine clinics in the office.
“Offering money to compensate for travel time, fuel and childcare needs would make vaccination more attractive too.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly has backed the calls for vaccine perks, saying it was critical the Government consider every tool at its disposal.
“We really do need to look for incentives – as many incentives as we can – for people to become vaccinated,” Kelly said.