Legislators of Greece approved on Wednesday an initiative that obliges all inhabitants over 60 years of age to be vaccinated against the coronavirus COVID-19, in order to cope with a spike in infections and the emergency due to omicron variant.

The initiative, supported by the center-right government and by a center-left opposition party – but rejected by all other opposition forces – is specifically aimed at the age group most vulnerable to death or intubation in the event of contracting the coronavirus.

About 17% of Greeks over the age of 60 are not vaccinated yet. They have until January 16 to have their first doses applied or they will be fined 100 euros ($ 113) for every month that passes without being inoculated.

The opposing parties considered that the measure is too severe towards low-income people who do not want to be inoculated.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he reluctantly proposed the initiative due to several “hard” facts: Nine out of 10 Greeks killed by COVID-19 were over 60 years old; seven out of 10 patients intubated in intensive care units belonged to the same demographic, and more than 8 out of 10 of them were not vaccinated.

Mitsotakis reported during the debate that 17% of unvaccinated people over the age of 60 “is too high a percentage to ignore.”

“It is beyond question that these people face the highest risk,” he added. “But they are also the ones who, by not being protected, are overwhelming the care capacity of the public health system, depriving thousands of other people with serious health problems of treatment.”

Last month, the government tightened restrictions on the unvaccinated and made mandatory diagnostic tests for personnel in workshops, services and non-essential places, such as outdoor cafeterias. According to the authorities, due to this measure, vaccination increased, but not among those over 60 years of age.

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