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EXPLAINED: What will Switzerland’s ‘vaccine week’ look like?

Switzerland seeks to increase its lagging vaccination rate
Switzerland’s upcoming vaccination offensive aims to get more people inoculated against Covid. Pool photo / AFP
The Federal Council announced a large-scale campaign to encourage more people in Switzerland to get Covid shots. This is what’s being planned.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Alain Berset outlined a vaccine offensive to boost Switzerland’s lagging vaccination rate. 

The centrepiece of the large-scale offensive will be a “Vaccination Week”, to be held across Switzerland from November 8th to 14th.

Why is the government launching this campaign?

The aim is to persuade more holdouts to get jabbed and raise Switzerland’s inoculation rate which, with only 61 percent fully vaccinated residents, is trailing behind the European average.

Immunisation “remains the best way out of the current crisis”, the government said.  

“It is only with a significantly higher vaccination rate that the population can be sufficiently immunised and protected against severe forms of the disease and that the health system can avoid overloading its capacities”.

Authorities specified that in order to lift all the measures, including the Covid certificate requirement, the vaccination rate should be around 93 percent for people over 65, and 80 percent in the 18 to 65 age group.

“The current vaccination rate is insufficient as temperatures start to drop and the pandemic could accelerate again”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How long will Switzerland keep the Covid certificate in place?

How will health authorities attempt to persuade holdouts to roll up their sleeves?

The goal is to “educate as many people as possible about the benefits of immunisation, through clear communication, in multiple languages ​​and based on reliable data”, the Federal Council said.

For its part, the Federal Council will send a letter to the population to stress the importance of vaccination.

On a grass-roots level, the cantons and communes will hold information sessions or local events focusing on vaccination, and each canton will deploy additional mobile units, allowing local residents easy access to consultations and immediate on-site vaccinations.

Currently, the government has 50 such mobile units in circulation across Switzerland, but the number will be “significantly increased”.

Personal approach

Authorities will focus on individual rather than mass approach in convincing reluctant people to get the jab.

“These counseling activities will take place through group discussions, personal or telephone contacts, or the individual ‘chat’ function on social networks”.

To facilitate the process, the counselors will also respond to individual needs and requests, such as finding a vaccination centre, a local doctor, or a translator.

What will the government NOT do?

One of the options originally considered for the vaccination week was for the counselors to go door to door to convince people to get vaccinated.

However, this idea was dropped amid criticism over the violation of privacy and other similar concerns.

Berset’s suggestion to offer a 50-franc voucher to anyone who persuades another person to get inoculated, was also abandoned.

READ MORE: Swiss cantons reject 50-franc reward for Covid vaccination


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