ATHENS, Greece -- Greece imposed a vaccination mandate Monday for people 60 and older as a spike in infections has put sustained pressure on Greek hospitals, where most of the seriously ill patients belong to that age group.
Older people failing to get vaccinated will face penalties, starting at a 50-euro ($57) fine in January and followed by a monthly fine of 100 euros ($114) after that.
Health Minister Thanos Plevris said the fines would be collected through the tax office with the money going to help fund state hospitals.
New infections surged sharply in early January but have eased over the past week.
The vaccination mandate for the 60 and older age group was announced in late December and, according to government data, 41.5% of the 530,000 people targeted by the measure are now fully vaccinated.
Opinion polls suggest strong public support for the mandate, but some lawmakers across party lines have questioned the legality of singling out a specific group. The government defended the measure as constitutional, citing a 2020 high court decision allowing public day care centers to refuse children who had not been vaccinated for childhood illnesses.
“The law will be fully enforced,” Oikonomou said.
Greece has the seventh oldest population in the world, as measured by share of residents aged 65 and over, according to the U.S.-based Population Reference Bureau. It has seen nearly 22,000 virus-related deaths in the pandemic.
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