PM urges grassroots persuasion to overcome vaccine hesitancy

Government

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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán urged Hungarians who have already been inoculated against the coronavirus to coax "at least one other person", be it a family member or a coworker, who hasn't been vaccinated to get their COVID jabs in an interview on public radio on Sunday.

"If everybody can convince one more person [to get inoculated], a level of immunity will be achieved in the country that makes the scale of the fourth wave nothing like that of the earlier waves," Orbán said on Kossuth Rádió.

"We can inoculate everybody; we have 8 million jabs in stock," he added.

Over 5.5 million Hungarians - from a population of just under 10 million - have been fully inoculated against the coronavirus.

Orbán acknowledged that the available data show "one in 500 inoculated people" will become infected with the coronavirus, but their symptoms will be milder than those of people who haven't had a COVID jab.

He said the fourth wave of the pandemic is "knocking at the door", albeit "knocking the loudest" on the doors of countries in the region and in western Europe. 

"The government has worked through the summer to prepare the country for the fourth wave," he added, noting a planned inoculation drive ahead of the start of the school year and the chance to get booster shots.

Orbán said the effectiveness of mask-wearing pales in comparison to the "overwhelming power" of inoculation and announced a new campaign to promote vaccination from September 1.

He said Hungarian pensioners would likely get a HUF 50,000-56,000 or higher growth-linked pension premium this year as the economy "speeds ahead".

Orbán noted he trusts GDP growth will reach the 5.5% threshold triggering a personal income tax rebate for families raising children. He added that the government also aims to push ahead with a personal income tax exemption for Hungarians under 25.

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