Older people in Greece who fail to get vaccinated against Covid-19 will face a monthly fine of €100 ($113.64), Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday, in the first of such measures imposed by an EU country.
As Greece seeks protection from the possibility of the virus resurgence in the winter months, Covid vaccinations for people over 60 will become mandatory.
The prime minister’s announcement marks the first measure in the EU to target a specific age group with mandatory vaccination, as officials seek to protect at-risk individuals and emergency workers from Covid.
Mitsotakis, who was defending the decision, stated that it was “the price to pay for health”It was vital to mandate the Covid jab to safeguard elderly Greeks not yet vaccinated.
“We are focusing our efforts on protection of our fellow citizens and for this reason their vaccination will be mandatory from now on,”Mitsotakis said.
Over-60s who have failed to book their appointment for a first Covid vaccine dose by January 16 will face a monthly recurring fine of €100. Mitsotakis described the penalty as a matter for “protection, not punishment.”
Even if I am temporarily dissatisfied, it is a burden to me that I stand beside the most vulnerable.
Greece has imposed a Covid vaccination mandate to try to prevent a lockdown. Instead, it relies on social distancing, jabs and tests to protect its citizens against the virus that has caused around 18,000 deaths in Greece.
Criticizing the government’s actions, Syriza, the country’s main opposition party, condemned Mitsotakis for taking a step that “hasn’t happened anywhere”Europe. While it’s not clear how the fine will be enforced, critics highlighted that €100 is a significant proportion of the country’s monthly €730 ($830.20) pension.
Although Greece’s measure is being touted as the first inoculation mandate imposed on a specific age group, it follows the French government urging all adults to get their booster shots. France is not making the booster mandatory but those who don’t get it will no longer be allowed to access their health pass and may lose access to bars or restaurants indoors.
Greece has seen 924,506 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The country’s vaccination program has administered 14 million doses so far, with around 63% of the population now fully vaccinated.