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Greece announced Tuesday that people 60 or older will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 16 or pay a monthly fine of 100 euros (about $114), Reuters reports.
Driving the news: "It's the price to pay for health," said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who added the decision to impose a fine "tortured" him.
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The money collected will go to Greek hospitals fighting the pandemic, per Bloomberg.
The big picture: The vaccine mandate is the first in the European Union targeting a specific age group and comes as vaccinations among the 60 and older population lag in Greece.
Approximately 520,000 people over the age of 60 have not yet received the vaccine and Greece’s vaccination ratio in this age group is around 83% compared to Portugal’s 98%, Mitsotakis said, per Bloomberg.
What he's saying: "We are focusing our efforts on protection of our fellow citizens and for this reason their vaccination will be mandatory from now on," Mitsotakis told a Cabinet meeting, according to Reuters.
The decision "tortured me, but I feel a heavy responsibility in standing next to those most vulnerable, even if it might fleetingly displease them."
Syriza, Greece's main opposition party, criticized the fine as excessive, Reuters reports.
The average monthly pension in Greece is 730 euros (about $830), per Reuters.
Go deeper: Greece to add restrictions on unvaccinated as COVID cases jump
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