Unvaccinated Greeks 60 and above now face fines

·2 min read

Individuals ages 60 and older who reside in Greece face fines beginning Monday if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Older individuals who are not inoculated will be fined 50 euros, which is equivalent to $57, in January, according to The Associated Press. If they still do not get the shot, they will be fined 100 euros, equal to $114, every month going forward.

The new policy, which was announced in November, comes as Greece's vaccination rate trails that of the European Union average. Roughly two-thirds of Greece's 10.7 million person population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but the EU has an inoculation rate of slightly more than 70 percent, according to the AP.

Individuals with valid health concerns will be exempt from the new policy, government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said, according to the AP. This includes people who were recently infected and individuals who experienced delays with their applications for home vaccination.

Oikonomou said, however, that "the law will be fully enforced," according to the AP.

Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris said the tax office will collect the fines, which will then go towards helping state hospitals amid the pandemic, according to the AP.

"The age factor is important because of its impact on the public health service," Plevris told Open TV on Sunday, according to the news wire.

Countries across the globe, including Greece, are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, driven in part by the highly transmissible omicron variant. Daily infections spiked early this month but have since subsided, according to the AP.

Greece announced last year that all health care workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19, the news wire noted. The country is reportedly set to begin another new policy on Feb. 1: Starting that day, adult vaccine certificates that are seven months old will be deemed expired if the holder does not get a booster shot.

Some Greek lawmakers have questioned if the policy is legal, but the government has stood by the move, pointing to a 2020 court decision that said public day care centers were allowed to turn away children who were not inoculated against childhood illnesses, according to the AP.

Greece is not the only area considering fines as a way to increase vaccination rates. The Canadian province of Quebec revealed last week that it is considering a health tax on individuals who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and don't have a valid medical exemption.

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