Faced with the spread of the Delta variant, Greece must vaccinate as many people as possible against Covid-19. Public health must be top priority for any government and any measure that protects it is a legitimate one.
The government this week announced it will offer a 150-euros stipend to people aged 18-25 to get at least one shot of a vaccine. It was an excellent decision. In fact, the government could have acted earlier and offered more benefits. As they say, health is wealth.
The SYRIZA opposition reacted, of course. It would be a surprise if it hadn’t. Some leftist officials said that the prime minister was trying to bribe young people; others said the measure is casting for votes. More sensitive critics said that it undermines individual responsibility. It’s worth noting that when the government spoke of individual responsibility, SYRIZA hit back with claims regarding state responsibility, adding that individual responsibility is only an ideological construct, which was nothing but a display of double standards of course.
Criticism of the incentive as a vote-catching measure is unconvincing. By the summer of 2023 none of those youngsters will recall having received a 150-euro bonus to get vaccinated. Before the 2019 election, SYRIZA had pledged to bring back the so-called “13th salary.” The move did not avert its landslide defeat.
There are times when silence is the best response, when anything you say will only harm your reputation, which, in the case of SYRIZA, has already been damaged by its tenure in government. The response from the target age group was encouraging. Even if a small number of youngsters are motivated to get vaccinated – as is expected – it will be a boon for the country. What matters is the epidemiological impact; not the incentives and the motivations.
Saying no to everything is self-destructive. In this case, the only thing SYRIZA succeeded in doing was to undermine Alexis Tsipras’ pledges for less work for more money. It was an own goal.