‘Persuasion strategy’ for Covid vaccine ‘exhausted’

‘Persuasion strategy’ for Covid vaccine ‘exhausted’

The government’s “persuasion strategy” to encourage take-up of the coronavirus vaccine has been “exhausted,” spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou said on Tuesday, as the expiration of a mandate for people aged 60 and above looms closer. 

“When you’re having to contend with the vaccine being turned into a political issue and obscurantist mentalities, there comes a time when you have to implement the law and adapt your legal arsenal,” he warned in comments to Skai television.

As a case in point, he referred to recent legislation aimed at clamping down on “fake news” regarding the pandemic and vaccines, saying that it facilitated the arrest of three members of the self-proclaimed “Guardians of the Constitution” far-right, anti-vax group over an assault on a school principal in northern Greece last week.

“The criminal code was amended so that the police and judicial authorities could deal with such unconscionable behavior with stricter penalties,” he said.

Stressing that the state “will not tolerate” similar reactions, Oikonomou also described as “charlatans” a group of anti-vaxxer parents in Halkida, in Evia, who made a public display on Sunday night of burning a book by the popular children’s writer Evgenios Trivizas explaining the pandemic. The book is slated for distribution at the country’s schools.

Oikonomou went on to express condolences to the family of Giorgos Trangas, the 74-year-old journalist who died of Covid in an Athens hospital on Tuesday morning, adding that he could have lived if he had been vaccinated.

Trangas’ death should “act as message to all those who have no protection against this disease to get the vaccine,” Oikonomou said.

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