Matt Bush, FISM News
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced Tuesday that all residents in his country over the age of 60 must either be vaccinated or face a fine of 100 Euros ($113 USD) per month.
The move comes amidst growing concern of the new Omicron variant along with a spike in infections in the country. While the country has yet to officially record an Omicron case in Greece, it is already at 91% of the highest daily average of new COVID cases since the virus began. According to Reuters, only around 62% of the Greek population is fully vaccinated, with more than 520,000 Greek residents over the age of 60 having not yet received a jab.
Due to these factors, Greek officials have decided to impose these new draconian measures on the elderly in their country.
According to the New York Post, Syriza, Greece’s main opposition party, have called the new mandates, “punitive and too excessive for the elderly.” The average monthly pension for Greek residents who are 60 and older is 730 Euros which means that these new fines would consume almost 14% of this group’s monthly income.
Even with such a steep penalty, early signs say that those 60 and older who have yet to be vaccinated are willing to pay the fines. An AP article quotes Mitsotakis as saying, “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.”
The mandate will take effect on Jan.16 of next year, and, according to Newsweek, will be the first instance of fine aimed at a specific age group in the European Union.
The move, however, is not the first vaccination mandates that the Mitsotakis government have imposed. In the summer, Greece imposed vaccination mandates for healthcare workers and fire service rescuers. Those who refused to be vaccinated were suspended from their jobs without pay until they complied with the mandate causing protests over the compulsory vaccinations.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said of the fines, “It is not a punishment, I would say it is a health fee.” He further explained that he views the fines as a tax on those who have not been vaccinated, with all funds going to help hospitals in fighting the pandemic.
According to the AP, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis conceded that it had been a politically difficult decision. He said, in parliament, “If we chose the easy path we would say: ‘It’s their problem.’ (Unvaccinated people over 60) wouldn’t get inoculated, they would die in their thousands and we would wash our hands of them so as not to lose votes.”
While Georgiadis considers it a “moral decision” for the government to make, the opposition party, Syriza, feels differently. They have called out the majority government saying that “this hasn’t happened anywhere [else]” and pointed out that other countries are still taking a “wait-and-see” approach to the Omicron variant prior to acting. While the current government sees vaccination mandates as a “moral decision” the opposition party wants to leave the decision in the hands of the people and their medical professionals.
The next election will assuredly tell the will of the people just like it will here in America.