Greece’s tough decision to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for people aged 60 and above, as well as fines for those who do not comply, has sparked frustration among pensioners who say They are already struggling financially.
Athens’ announcement on Tuesday means Greece is the second European country after Austria to make vaccinations mandatory, although it is the first in the EU to target a specific age group.
Those over 60 who are not vaccinated or have not made an appointment by 16 January for their first dose will face a monthly fine of 100 euros (£85), with money collected to finance Greece’s hospitals. will gain help in.
Greece has reported a spike in infections this month, with daily cases hitting record highs, while its complete vaccination rate of 63 per cent lags behind the EU average of 66 per cent.
When it comes to people age 60 and older, only about four-fifths have been vaccinated – a statistic that also compares with the rest of the block.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the decision was a difficult one, but necessary to protect the more than 520,000 elderly Greeks who had not yet been confiscated.
“We are focusing our efforts on the safety of our fellow citizens and for this reason their vaccination will be mandatory,” he told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
“(The decision) tortured me, but I feel an enormous responsibility in standing next to those most vulnerable, even though it may anger them momentarily,” Mitsotakis said. “It’s a price to pay for health.”
Yet many retirees in Athens told Granthshala The price of failing to comply with the measures was unreasonable given the state of the country’s economy and the meager pensions offered to retirees.
Greece emerged from a decade-long financial crisis in 2018, but last year saw its economy shrink by 8.2% again amid restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19, which also hurt its vital tourism industry.
“These measures are very bad,” said Agapi Agouridaki, a retired 77-year-old living in Athens. She has taken three doses of vaccinations, but believes it is impossible to impose a fine.
“Don’t you see the misery of every person? Now they have to pay? It’s unacceptable.”
The average pension in Greece is around 730 euros per month, while the retirement age can range from 60 to 70 years.
According to 2017 data from the country’s United Retirement Network, eight in 10 retirees in Greece are poor and cannot afford basic living costs such as medicine or electricity.
The 69-year-old retired Nikos Dimitriou has a number of health problems that prevent him from getting vaccinated but said he is most concerned about the fine.
“People may not have enough to eat. How will they pay? Some may be sick, some may not be able to pay, some this, some that,” he said Granthshala, “It’s not a right decision.”
The message was echoed by Greece’s main opposition party, Syriza, which said the measures were punitive and financially excessive.
“The perpetrators of the health disaster … instead of taking responsibility, hand it over to the citizens once again,” the party said in a statement on Tuesday.
During and after the austerity, Greece has cut funding from the national health system for more than a decade, leaving hospitals struggling to manage the pandemic with shortages of staff and supplies.
“This time it targets people over 60 and instead of announcing national health system support measures, encouraging vaccinations and hardening health care measures, it announces punishment and financial destruction measures, which will destroy the world’s economy.” are not implemented in any other country,” Siriza’s statement said.
Yet not all retirees are against the new measures.
In fact, some see mandatory vaccines as the only way out of Greece’s pandemic, which has infected at least 931,180 people and killed nearly 18,070 in the country so far.
“(The government) is putting these things to try,” said Roland Zotto, 63, who has received three vaccination doses. “What they have done is right. They study these things, they know better.
“We are now in an era where we are a little scared. We know we will die but we don’t want to suffer. I want to die standing, ”she said with a smile.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /