Government defends vaccine mandate for over-60s
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis defended the decision to make vaccination against Covid-19 compulsory for people aged 60 or above, stressing that mass inoculation is the only way to keep the economy and society open.
“I am a liberal politician and I do not like the idea of mandates in principle. However, I do believe that we made the right decision, as soon as the Omicron variant – about which we do not yet know much – appeared,” told US broadcaster CNN in an interview on Monday night.
Mandating the obligatory vaccination of people over 60 and setting a 100-euro monthly fine effective as of January 16 was “a last resort,” he explained, but it was a necessary measure for safeguarding public health and the public health system.
“Our policies eventually will be vindicated,” he said.
The latest data on vaccinations, meanwhile, point to the decision already starting to pay off, after a Health Ministry official on Monday confirmed that more than 70,000 appointments for a first dose had been booked since Tuesday last week.
Speaking at the ministry’s regular evening briefing on the course of the pandemic, the general secretary of primary healthcare responsible for vaccinations, Marios Themistokleous, expressed confidence in the pace of take-up, saying it much higher than the 24,000 jabs booked by the over-60s a week earlier.
He did, however, concede that the number of appointments is still small compared to the estimated 500,000 citizens in the 60+ age group who had not been vaccinated before the mandate was announced last week.