Greece gifts young people cash for vaccine

·1-min read

Greece will offer young people a cash reward for receiving their first shot against COVID-19 as part of a government drive to boost vaccination rates ahead of the summer holiday season.

The southern European nation weathered the first wave of the pandemic fairly well but was forced to impose a second lockdown in November to deal with a resurgence in cases which overwhelmed its public health system.

With coronavirus cases easing, the country ended the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors last week.

Effective from Monday, fully vaccinated Greeks can also go to work or to gyms without the need for self-tests.

But with about 33 per cent of the 11 million population fully inoculated so far, and concerns rising about the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant, the government has been examining more incentives to boost vaccination rates.

"With the first jab of the vaccine (they) will get a prepaid card of 150 euros ($A236)," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a ministerial meeting, presenting the new incentive.

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

Some 940,000 Greeks aged 18-25 years who have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, or will do so by the end of the year, will be eligible to receive the cash bonus - a so-called 'freedom pass' - the government said.

The group will be allowed to spend the cash for their summer vacation and cultural events from July 15. On top of that,they will get one-month free internet data on their mobile phones in August.

Greece has reported a total of 420,905 cases and 12,664 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic last year.

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