ATHENS – January 17 is Penalty Day for Greece’s over-60’s who are unvaccinated and will start being fined 100 euros ($114) a month as long as they remain that way.
For January the fine will be 50 euros ($57) because of the Jan. 16 deadline that came halfway throught the month but as of February it will double although the requirement has seen a boost in the numbers being vaccinated or making appointments, but some 300,000 will be fined now.
All persons who are permanently resident in Greece and were born before December 31, 1961 must have had at least the first dose of vaccination against Covid-19 on January 16, 2022 in order to avoid the fine. The vaccination must then be completed within the foreseen timeframe.
The birth date of the individuals subject to mandatory vaccination can be modified by the health minister for those that turn 60 after December 31, 2021.
The fine will stop on the first day of the month after an individual gets the first dose of the vaccine. If the vaccination is not completed on time, the sanctions will be imposed from the time when the second dose should have been received.
The fine will be issued and immediately collected by the Independent Authority for Public Revenues (AADE) and the sums collected will be used exclusively for the support of the national health system response to Covid-19.
Those exempted from mandatory vaccination include those that have recovered from Covid-19 (for a period of 180 days), those that have applied to be vaccinated at home and have not yet been given an appointment, those for whom vaccination is contraindicated for health reasons and those that have been vaccinated abroad. The last group must register their appointment via the government Covid-19 website, at anagnorisi.emvolio.gov.gr.
Exemption from vaccination for health reasons is established by a three-member committee in each healthcare region, while the deadline to apply to be exempted for medical reasons was January 14. The reply to the application must be given within seven days and is sent to the applicant and the attending doctor electronically. No fines will be imposed until a decision is issued.
Citizens whose application for exemption is denied will then have until January 28 in order to receive the first dose of the vaccine in order to avoid a fine.
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people in that age group have put themselves in position not to be fined although the New Democracy government earlier was said to be mulling mandatory shots for those over 50 as well.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis backed away from a pledge to consider required shots for all of society but those health care workers suspended for refusing to be inoculated now face being fired if they don’t.
The government wants to ease pressure on the beleaguered national health care system and public hospitals that saw record-breaking numbers of cases in December, 2021 over the Omicron Variant surge.
The vaccination mandate for the 60 and older age group was announced in late December and, according to government data, 41.5% of the 530,000 people targeted by the measure are now fully vaccinated. Opinion polls suggest strong public support for the mandate, but some lawmakers across party lines have questioned the legality of singling out a specific group. The government defended the measure as constitutional, citing a 2020 high court decision allowing public day care centers to refuse children who had not been vaccinated for childhood illnesses.
Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said only people with legitimate health exemptions, those who had suffered a recent infection and applicants for home vaccination appointments that were delayed would be spared the fine.
“The law will be fully enforced,” Oikonomou said.
Greece has the seventh oldest population in the world, as measured by share of residents aged 65 and over, according to the U.S.-based Population Reference Bureau. It has seen nearly 22,000 virus-related deaths in the pandemic.