Doctors disapprove of vaccine lottery in Latvia

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The Latvian Association of Doctors (LĀB) supports vaccination as the safest and most effective means of limiting the Covid-19 pandemic but is categorically opposed to organizing a vaccine lottery, according to LĀB's statement August 3.

The Association says that the use of fiscal incentives to promote public health should only be allowed in exceptional cases.

“The association calls for the cessation of wasting taxpayers' money for inefficient advertising campaigns and to channel the money to strengthen Latvian health care,” LĀB said.

LĀB's board said that the vaccination lottery and single-slogan advertising campaigns are not the best way to educate and address the public to encourage vaccination against Covid-19. Moreover, the association considers that such campaigns devalue human life because health and vaccination are not a gamble.

It would be more appropriate to use the money allocated to the lottery for the treatment of Covid-19 patients and to strengthen the capacity of the health system, according to the association.

LĀB called on the government, the responsible ministry, and the Saeima to employ professionals in the health sector for informing and educating the public, as well as to cooperate more with local governments and entrepreneurs who, in the opinion of the association, are able to address specific groups of people more directly and effectively.

At the same time, LĀB acknowledged that Latvia is not unique and that such lotteries are also organized elsewhere in the world.

“Unfortunately, in most cases, this approach has failed to justify itself because it does not focus on addressing the needs of specific audiences. The association calls for a strategy for increasing the vaccination reach and for targeting individual groups of society, such as [providing] free transport tickets or food vouchers," LĀB wrote in the statement.

LĀB repeatedly called on Latvian residents to get vaccinated and to discuss the unclear issues of the vaccination process with their family doctors or other specialists.

On July 30, the Cabinet supported the Law on a Vaccination lottery, which provides for the organization of the drawing of lots for cash prizes among people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19. The draft law has yet to be approved by the Saeima, where it is likely to come under further fire.

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