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Minister Says Greece’s COVID-19 Vaccinated in Line for Privileges

ATHENS – Greece's Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could be getting some unspecified special privileges after the New Democracy government hinted it would make inoculations mandatory if necessary.

Georgiadis didn't specify what those would be but hinted they would be an incentive for others who have been reluctant to get the shots to get in line as the country needs to hit a 70 percent benchmark of the population to slow the pandemic.

So far, only about 20 percent of people have received required shots of most vaccine versions, although the US-made Johnson & Johnson requires only one to be fully effective.

Georgiadis told SKAI radio that the idea of privileges, if enacted, would be done so only when the vaccine supply has outpaced demand in the country. 

“We need to be certain that one did not get vaccinated because one did not want to do so, not because one could not schedule a (vaccination) appointment,” he said, the program called Eleftheria (Freedom) accelerating but still far behind.

He said the move could be made before the end of June while Alternate Interior Minister Stelios Petsas also said that giving special privileges to vaccinated individuals could provide an incentive for the doubters and reluctant.

There's been no word whether being fully vaccinated would be a requirement to work or attend public gatherings such as concerts, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis saying he can't force health workers to get the shots.

Pointing to the importance of being vaccinated was a report that all 398 people in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) were not inoculated, said Georgiadis – a former health minister, although the numbers are coming down.

Greece has been touting its vaccination program to tourists as a lure for them to come visit and help an economy brought down by lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus.

Most of the health measures have already been lifted although those that remain, such as wearing masks and staying safe social distances, are widely being ignored, the government said it would move to get stricter again if needed and cases rise.

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