ATHENS – Any person over 60 who is permanently resident in Greece must get at least a first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 before January 16 in order to avoid the 100-euro monthly fine, Health Minister Thanos Plevris said on Thursday, during a briefing on the mandatory vaccination measure for the 60-plus age group that was passed by Parliament the previous day.
Regarding the second measure announced by the government to slow the spread of the pandemic, namely the distribution of free self-test kits to the entire population starting next week, Plevris said it was important that every person participate “so we can see where we are exactly with the epidemic and how we can contain it before the holidays.”
“It is very important that all citizens participate in this great diagnostic screening,” he said, so that anyone testing positive for the virus can promptly self-isolate and not endanger the health of their loved ones during the Christmas holidays.
He clarified that the fines for unvaccinated people over 60 will start to be issued from January 16. Anyone who is unvaccinated after that date will have to pay an administrative fine of 100 euros for each month they remain unvaccinated. He also announced that special healthcare committees will be set up to examine the cases of people seeking exemption from vaccination for serious health reasons.
He announced that Christmas theme parks being set up around the country will be Covid-free and accessible only to those that are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months. Children will be required to take a rapid lateral flow test that has a negative result before entering.
Plevris also announced that the Covid-19 recovery certificate will henceforth only be issued on the basis of a PCR test and not a rapid lateral flow test.
The minister said that vaccines for ages five to 11 have already been approved by the relevant health committee but differed from those for older age groups and would not be available in Greece before the end of December, at which time the platform for booking vaccinations will open.
He said the committee was currently examining reducing the interval between the second and booster jabs of the vaccine to four months from the current six.
National Public Health Organisation (NOPH) President Theoklis Zaoutis, who participated in the briefing, stressed the importance of self tests during the holidays.
“Let all of us not neglect to take the free test for this one week, whether we are vaccinated or unvaccinated. It is an easy and free way to try and flatten the curve of the pandemic and keep it at a safe level so that we can have good holidays,” Zaoutis stressed.
He also advised taking a self test – even though this was not mandatory – before attending Christmas parties and gatherings and once again after the holidays, when a second free self-test will be distributed to all persons, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, after January 3.