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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced mandatory Covid-19 vaccination for all Greeks above 60 years of age before a cabinet meeting in Athens on Tuesday, in an effort to tackle the new omicron variation threat ahead of the festive season.

Those who refuse to get vaccinated will have to pay a monthly fine of 100 euros ($114) for each month they don’t get jabbed, starting on Jan. 16, according to Mitsotakis. The penalty will be imposed by the tax authorities directly to those who haven’t been inoculated and the funds collected will be given to Greek hospitals fighting the pandemic.

“It is not a punishment," Mitsotakis said. “I would say it is a health fee."

In Greece, only 60,000 among the 580,000 unvaccinated people over 60 years old received the vaccine in November. Greece’s vaccination ratio in this age group is around 83% compared to Portugal’s 98%, Mitsotakis said. 

Those people must be the first to be protected, as they are often the ones who go to the hospital when it’s too late, further aggravating their situation and preventing the hospitalization of people with other serious diseases, the premier said. 

“Experts estimate that the importance of the vaccine in a 70-year-old person is equivalent to 34 vaccinations of younger ones in terms of public health," according to Mitsotakis.

Greece will also provide every adult with a free self-test during the Dec. 6-12 period and the Jan. 3-7 period, the Greek premier said. 

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