In view of mounting Covid-19 cases and the imminent impact on economic activity, Greek authorities are introducing a new round of measures and incentives including mandatory vaccination for certain groups as well as subsidies.
Despite breaking the 10 million doses barrier, Greece still faces a problem of vaccination turnout with many Greeks still refusing to get the jab, which authorities believe is impacting the country’s economic recovery and putting others at risk.
Earlier this week, anti-vaccination demonstrators took to the streets of Athens protesting against government proposals to make vaccination mandatory.
Greece has so far administered 10,025,958 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine with 5,551,526 people having completed at least one dose and the number of fully vaccinated reaching 4,787,767.
Greek Parliament Votes on Mandatory Vaccination
On Thursday, Greek parliament passed a relevant amendment which foresees obligatory vaccination for all private and public sector employees in health and senior care facilities and hospitals as well as for ambulance and nursing staff by September 1. Those who fail to comply may face suspension without pay.
Additionally, all employees are required by law to provide proof of vaccination or recovery or face dismissal while employers face fines.
Authorities also announced on Thursday that unvaccinated restaurant and tourism staff will have to conduct regular Covid-19 testing.
In a meeting on Friday, with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis justified the decision citing Article 25 of the Greek constitution which asserts that “the state has the right to demand of all citizens the fulfil their obligation for social and national solidarity”.
Deputy Health Minister Vasilis Kontozamanis said mandatory vaccination for other professional groups was under consideration, underlining that vaccination was the only “weapon” available to deal with Covid-19.
Making vaccination more “attractive”
In the meantime, in order to make vaccination more “attractive”, Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias announced financial incentives for pharmacists and doctors which include subsidies for booked vaccination appointments as well as for in-home vaccinations. This comes on the back of the 150-euro ‘Freedom Pass’ voucher offered to youths who get vaccinated.
Greece also announced this week that it would be launching an online platform for individuals requiring in-home vaccinations due to mobility issues.
Speaking to the press on Friday, Government Spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said the government would take any measures necessary to address high viral loads in given locations and urged people to comply to regulations, wear masks and get vaccinated.
In the last 24-hour period, Greece’s recorded 2,604 coronavirus cases, of which 1,066 in the wider Athens area, 243 in Thessaloniki, 129 in Heraklion (Crete), 82 in Rethymno (Crete), 62 in Achaia, and 61 in Chania (Crete). The islands of Rhodes, Mykonos, Evia, and Corfu are still high in infections, the National Public Health Organization (EODY) said.