The government’s incentives package for young people to get vaccinated offers everything from gift cards to plane tickets, but actually securing some of the perks appears quite tricky.
The incentives were announced to much fanfare on Friday evening in a bid to sway more undecided young people towards vaccinating against the coronavirus.
Experts had warned that the low vaccine take-up among the young would translate into a higher number of cases and sure enough, the data has shown that most of the recently infected were under the age of 40 and in most cases, unvaccinated.
Officials have been mulling incentives for the vaccinated for a while, starting with the holiday subsidy scheme that will offer discounted holidays to local hotels until the end of August.
Incentives for younger people in particular started with days off for young soldiers, but commissioner for the citizen Panayiotis Sentonas had hinted that would follow, using tactics similar to the ones used by the Greek government, which offered cash to anyone under 25 who got vaccinated.
During a meeting coordinated by Sentonas at the presidential palace on Monday, private companies and other bodies submitted suggestions for the provision of specific incentives.
The result was Friday’s BeSafe incentive scheme. It features a list of offers from 13 companies and organisations, with the majority of incentives intended for those aged 18 to 30. Some organisations have set a different age limit, but not exceeding 30, Sentonas said.
How far the tactics will work remain to be seen.
“I was shocked to hear the new measures that basically allow more businesses to discriminate against people who are choosing not to be injected with a vaccine that has not completed its clinical trials,” 24 year-old Marina Fotiou told the Cyprus Mail on Saturday.
“Seriously? Do they think they can manipulate us into it? This is my choice, and I can choose to wait,” a 28-year-old mother said.
The list can be found on the website https://www.presidency.gov.cy/cypresidency/besafe.nsf/home/home?Openform, or via the PIO’s website.
The list provides information on all the incentives available, with links taking users to the relevant websites where they can learn more about deals or enter draws for the chance to win one.
Perusing the list, it becomes obvious that most of these come in limited numbers. To ensure the fairness of the scheme, people will have to enter draws in some cases, like to win one of the 2,025 season tickets offered by the Cyprus Football Association.
A hundred €50 vouchers from Zara clothing stores and 400 €50 vouchers from CTC (Superhome Center DIY, CTC Automotive Ltd, and Ermes Department Stores PLC) will also be subject to a draw, as will 100 return tickets to Greece offered by Tus Airways.
A further 150 plane tickets are offered by Cyprus Airways, but clicking the link seems to lead to a dead page.
Other incentives are a little more complicated to obtain. For example, state telecoms Cyta will give away 5,000 €20 vouchers on a first come first served basis, as will the Cyprus Theatre Organisation, which will offer annual subscriptions to the first 100 people to register.
The Bank of Cyprus will offer 2,000 €50 gift vouchers to be used at Public stores through credit or debit cards, but this is limited to those aged between 18 and 20.
To further complicate things, these vouchers can only be obtained by Bank of Cyprus account holders, meaning that those wanting the voucher might have to open an account with the bank, if they don’t already have one.
Similarly, telecoms companies Epic and Cablenet will offer a range of perks such as free data and discounts to mobile telephony packages, but obviously this will be for existing clients and those willing to switch.
Lastly, Crowne Plaza in Limassol will offer 100 vouchers worth €25 each to be used at its pool, spa and gym, while Easyslim will give away 2,000 programmes worth €260 each for wellbeing and conditioning. Information on the availability of these two is vague but they will presumably be offered on a first come first served basis as well.
“It feels like a bit of an empty gesture because they’re clearly trying to just get people to vaccinate no matter what by bribing them. There’s no guarantee you’ll get anything in the end,” said Andreas, a 25-year-old who is still on the fence about booking his jab.