Nov 30, 2021 - World

Greece to impose monthly fine for unvaccinated people 60 or older

A patient receives a dose of vaccine against Covid-19, in Aristotelous Square, in the center of Thessaloniki on November 26, 2021

A patient receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Aristotelous Square in the center of Thessaloniki on Nov. 26. Photo: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP via Getty Images

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.

  • 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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