To the Editor:
The Greek government has made a grave oversight that affects tens if not hundreds of thousands of legal residents in Greece who are ineligible for the COVID vaccine, a situation that endangers not only us, but the entire Greek population.
Without a Greek social security (AMKA) number, there is no possibility of obtaining an appointment for the vaccine. Tens of thousands of legal residents: Golden Visa holders and their families (70,000 residents); as well as students, retirees and digital nomads from outside the EU, and other classes of residents without work permits, cannot get in line for the vaccine.
Additionally, Greek citizens who retired to Greece by never worked here cannot get AMKA, nor can many EU citizens (like my 80-year-old neighbor who has had a house here for 40 years).
Our numbers are statistically significant. If we are not vaccinated, the vaccine initiative in Greece is jeopardized. Other EU countries understand the importance of vaccinating their entire populations and only require legal residency. Greece has tied vaccine eligibility to having a work permit/history.
Greek government bodies like Enterprise Greece continue to encourage investors us to relocate here, touting the security and safety of living in the EU. We are neither secure nor safe without access to the vaccine, and neither is the Greek population. The Greek education ministry wants to attract 30-40,000 non-EU students here in the next three years.
On a personal note, my husband and I, both over 60, would be eligible for the Astra Zeneca vaccine now available to our age group. Yet signing up without AMKA on https://emvolio.gov.gr results in a message telling us to visit the KEP and obtain an AMKA number. We are not eligible.
We agreed to move to Greece with the understanding that we cannot work here. My business is in the U.S. The trip to New York by plane for over 10 hours is too risky without a vaccine. This policy hinders my ability to earn a living.
There may be a government initiative to grant people in our position temporary AMKA numbers, valid only for the vaccination. Yet there is no concrete information or timeframe. Moreover, the measure would require a vote in parliament, rendering it even more uncertain.
Greece must immediately understand that if we are not safe, its citizens are not safe. We moved here in good faith, own property and pay taxes. We are not requesting special privileges, but we do merit a place in line for the vaccine.