Greece says it will make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for people aged 60 and older in a move to curb a recurring virus that strains a fragile healthcare system.
This is the first vaccine mandate aimed at a specific age group in Europe
Data show that around 520,000 people over 60 have not received a jab
- About 63 percent of Greece’s 11 million people are fully vaccinated
Authorities said those who failed to comply with them from January 16 would face a recurring monthly fine of 100 euros ($ 159).
This week’s announcement marks the first EU-wide targeting of a specific age group.
Other countries make vaccines mandatory for health workers and other high-risk groups of workers.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was struggling with the decision, but it was necessary to protect more than half a million elderly Greeks who had not been caught.
“It’s the price to pay for health,” he said.
About 63 percent of Greece’s 11 million people are fully vaccinated.
While vaccine agreements have been tightened in recent weeks, data from the Ministry of Health show that there are 520,000 people over the age of 60 who have not been vaccinated.
Elderly people are fined 100 euros
“We are focusing our efforts on protecting our fellow citizens, and for this reason their vaccination will be mandatory from now on,” Mr Mitsotakis said at a cabinet meeting.
Syriza, Greece’s largest opposition party, accused the measures of being punitive and financially excessive.
“This has not happened anywhere,” it read.
Mitsotakis did not say how authorities would enforce the rule.
A fine of 100 euros is a large part of the average monthly pension of 730 euros (1,160 USD).
Greece has this month excluded unvaccinated people from indoor spaces, including restaurants, cinemas, museums and gyms, as daily COVID-19 cases reached record highs.
It has registered 931,183 infections and 18,067 deaths since the start of the pandemic last year.