Cash-for-jabs: Serbia unveils new payment scheme to encourage residents to get Covid-19 vaccine

The president of Serbia has announced what is likely the world’s first cash-for-jabs plan, offering to pay any citizen who gets a Covid vaccine before the end of May some 3,000 dinars ($30) in an attempt to boost uptake.

The move was unveiled by President Alexandra Vucic on Wednesday after the country’s vaccination rollout stalled due to poor turnout. Serbia has inoculated around 1.3 million of its 7 million people.

The government hopes that by offering a cash incentive to “reward people who showed responsibility”, they will more than double the number vaccinated within the month. 

Alongside unveiling the new incentive, Vucic warned that individuals who refused to receive a Covid vaccine would be denied paid sick leave if they contract coronavirus.

To help meet the potential increase in demand, Serbia will be expanding its vaccination hubs to include shopping centers. 

Serbian epidemiologist Zoran Radovanovic, told AFP that the Serbian proposal appears to be a world first. However, he warned that the government should be careful, as while the measure might encourage some to get vaccinated, it could cause suspicion in others about the government needing to pay people to get inoculated.

The country’s Covid vaccine campaign administers Russia’s Sputnik V and Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV jabs, as well as those of Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca.