Greece has announced the first vaccine mandate targeting the elderly portion of the population. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised statement that the Covid-19 vaccine will now be required by law for people 60 years of age and above abd will be fined $114 for every month they remain unvaccinated.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis cited the now required national “vigilance” as the emergence of the new Omicron strain has lamented the massive numbers of the still unvaccinated elderly in the country.
But even more surprising are the penalties for non-compliance, which will take effect next year. For each month, citizens over 60 years of age will be fined 100 euros ($114) and up if found without the vaccine, the prime minister said.
In Orwellian fashion Mitsotakis said “It is not a punishment,” but instead, “I would say it is a health fee.” He said that to avoid the fine, “Greeks over the age of 60… must book their appointment for a first jab by January 16,” according to his statement to the cabinet.
He emphasized the demographic situation: “Their vaccination is henceforth compulsory.” Lawmakers will approve it after the parliamentary vote, given that officials have started sounding the alarm over the overstrained health system lately.
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The data also show that more than half a million people, who are over 60, have remained unvaccinated. The percentage of vaccinations in Greece is about 63%.
Mitsotakis referred to the ever rising numbers and claimed that while the new mandate “tortured” him, he still felt a “heavy responsibility in standing next to those most vulnerable, even if it might fleetingly displease them”.
Over the course of a year, the fine would sum up to a very hefty 1,200-euros. This is viewed as particularly steep for those over the age of 60 to afford to pay. As Forbes noted, citing Greek media figures:
The fine would represent a “hefty chunk” of the average monthly pension payment, which is about €730 ($830), the outlet reported.
PM Mitsotakis said further in the prepared statements: “Unfortunately, of the 580,000 unvaccinated of our fellow citizens over the age of 60, only 60,000 set up appointments to get vaccinated in November.”
He added, “But it is mainly people over 60 who require hospital treatment and sadly lose their life. These deaths are unnecessary.”
Left wing opposition Syriza slammed the government for trying to shift the blame of its own failure of handling the pandemic onto the common citizens.
It said in a statement that Athens is now “targeting people over 60 with punitive and financially debilitating measures that haven’t been implemented anywhere else in the world.”
Of course, a fine that is to be assessed on a monthly basis enforced upon the older citizens is unprecedented. It is also unclear on just how the government authorities plan to identify the unvaccinated on a monthly basis.
However, it is very clear that if the drastic policy and law result in increase in the number of vaccinated among the target age group, the European governments would surely take note and subsequently roll out similar measures in their respective countries.
Meanwhile, over a dozen people have been forcibly taken to government isolation centers in Germany, while hundreds are being held in similar centers in Australia as Western countries continue to use mandatory COVID quarantine centers all in the name putting an end to COVID-19.