Greece from Monday expects to fine all people over the age of 60 who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19 as a way to boost lagging inoculation levels and reduce pressure on health care.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has advised seniors the simplest way to avoid the levy is to get vaccinated.
“To the few of our fellow citizens over 60 who are still unvaccinated, I encourage them today: take the step,” he said on Saturday. “It’s not a matter of fine, yes the fine will be imposed, but that’s the least. Protect your life, the lives of those you love, and understand that the vaccine is safe.”
Greek authorities say the non-vaccinated remain at high risk for hospitalization from the Covid. Nearly nine of every 10 Covid-related passings in Greece have been among people 60 or more, while seven out of 10 of those hospitalized from the infection are over 60. And of those, eight in 10 are unvaccinated.
Before the compulsory shots were reported in November, nearly 520,000 seniors in Greece hadn’t been vaccinated, according to Health Ministry data.
Since then, around 220,000 more have rolled up their sleeves. Of the remaining 300,000 individuals, some will be eligible to apply for exemptions for medical reasons.
Holdouts might be fined 100 euros ($114) a month. The penalty will be imposed by Greek tax authorities directly to those who haven’t been inoculated, and the funds collected will be given to hospitals fighting the pandemic.
Now the government has exhausted all other means of persuasion, spokesman Ioannis Oikonomou said on Thursday.
Like much of Europe, Greece has seen everyday cases hit records this month due to the highly-contagious omicron variant. Covid-related deaths are running at levels similar to the peak of previous waves.