To start, Covid vaccines will be mandatory for individuals aged 60 and over, as Greece seeks to protect its health service from a potential resurgence of the virus throughout the coming winter months.
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.
Defending the decision, Mitsotakis stated that it was “the price to pay for health” and that it was important to make the Covid jab mandatory to protect elderly Greeks who have not yet been 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 stated.
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 called the penalty a matter of “protection, not punishment.”
I feel a heavy responsibility in standing next to those most vulnerable, even if it might fleetingly displease them.
By imposing a Covid vaccine mandate, Greece is hoping that it will be able to avoid a lockdown, instead relying on jabs, tests, and social distancing to protect citizens from the virus, which has resulted in around 18,000 fatalities in the country.
Criticizing the government’s actions, Syriza, the country’s main opposition party, condemned Mitsotakis for taking a step that “hasn’t happened anywhere” in 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.