Greece offers its young people cash and phone data to get COVID shots

by Reuters
Monday, 28 June 2021 17:09 GMT

Healthcare workers carry out a demonstration of the vaccination process during a media tour at a vaccination centre, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Athens, Greece, December 23, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Image Caption and Rights Information

Greece becomes the latest country to offer incentives for getting the coronavirus vaccine

(Adds govt official on vaccination target, updates COVID figures, edits)

ATHENS, June 28 (Reuters) - Greece will offer its young people a 150 euro ($180) cash card and a free month of phone data to get their first COVID-19 shot, in a government drive to boost vaccination rates in the build-up to the holidays.

Read more: Carrot or stick? How countries are tackling COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

The country has been easing restrictions as infections fall, but concerns are rising about the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

"With the first jab of the vaccine (they) will get a prepaid card of 150 euros," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a ministerial meeting.

"It's a debt to the youth, a gift out of gratitude," he added.

Around 940,000 Greeks aged 18-25 who get their first shot by the end of the year will be eligible for the "freedom pass" cash bonus, the government said.

They will be allowed to spend it on their summer holidays and cultural events from July 15.

Around a third of the 11 million-strong population is fully inoculated, according to government figures.

Greece could have 80% of its people vaccinated by the autumn if they were convinced about the importance of shots, a government official in charge of vaccinations said on Monday.

"If the message is clear... this target can be achieved by the end of the summer, early in September," Marios Themistocleous told a weekly briefing.

Greece has reported a total of 421,266 cases and 12,682 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The country ended the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors last week. From Monday, fully vaccinated Greeks can also go to work or the gym without having to test themselves.

($1 = 0.8389 euros) (Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens)