On December 1 2021, Imgur user athansTaker shared a meme about a purportedly looming fine for unvaccinated people in Greece over the age of 60:
Across an unrelated photograph of a blue frog in a tree, text read:
In Greece, if you are over 60 and not vaccinated at least with the first dose up until the 16th of January , you are going to be fined by the government 100 Euros per month.
While the post was popular on Imgur, it didn’t include citations or links to news articles about vaccine-related fines or policies in Greece. Commenters analyzed the statement, suggesting it be applied in other countries with poor voluntary vaccination rates:
“As a result the appointments for the vaccination for people above 60 have increased 4 times. Meaning they care more about paying than dying[.]”
“Good. Now do the same here.”
“Good. USA next.”
“The fine should double every month, that way it would be even more money for the state and teach the people something about exponential [growth], that they seem to not have understood so far.”
“Good. You have an option, you can get vaccinated, OR you can pay a fine. You can be a dick, but it’ll cost you a little money.”
News about Greece’s efforts to increase rates of vaccination were, however, widely covered in the news at the time the post appeared. On November 30 2021, NPR covered the Greek vaccine fine, reporting that Austria had introduced a similar fine around the same time:
Facing a surge in coronavirus infections and stalled vaccination drives, two nations in the European Union are giving their citizens an ultimatum: take the COVID-19 vaccine or face the financial consequences.
Greece announced [on November 30 2021] that everyone 60 and older must be vaccinated by mid-January  or face monthly fines of 100 euros (roughly $114).
Earlier this month, Austria said it would require its entire adult population to be vaccinated by Feb. 1 . Those who refuse are set to pay up to 3,600 euros, or just over $4,000, in fines.
CNBC cited a slightly lower vaccination rate for Greece than the average in Europe, and reported:
“It is not a punishment. It is a price of health, but also an act of justice towards the most vaccinated,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said via Twitter on [November 30 2021].
Greece reported 7,720 new cases on Tuesday, down from a record high of 8,969 on Nov. 9, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
However, the authorities are worried about infections rising further in the runup and during the Christmas holidays. To this effect, they are also stepping up testing capacities.
Per the BBC, the fine wasn’t purely punitive in nature. Rather, it was partly intended to offset costs associated with increasing hospitalizations:
Fines of €100 (£85) will be imposed at monthly intervals from mid-January  on those who refuse, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
The money will go towards the Greek health system, which is struggling with a surge in hospital admissions.
About 63% of Greece’s 11-million population is fully vaccinated [as of November 30 2021], but data show more than 520,000 people over 60 are yet to get the jab.
“Greeks over the age of 60… must book their appointment for a first jab by January 16 ,” the premier said in a statement to the cabinet.
“Their vaccination is henceforth compulsory.”
Bloomberg.com’s “These Countries Are Slapping the Unvaccinated With Fines and Bans” added that the Omicron variant prompted similar measures in other countries:
Germany and Israel are moving closer to making Covid-19 vaccine shots compulsory, Greece is introducing fines and Spain is banning some unvaccinated travelers. Despite protests, making life harder for those who don’t want a shot is a tactic increasingly favored by governments, spooked by the spread of the omicron variant.
Bars and restaurants in Finland refusing to use Covid certificates will no longer serve booze after 5 p.m. in the latest attempt by the government. Health authorities in the northern town of Kajaani offered a thousand plastic buckets to entice people to get a shot, playing off a joke that Finns will line up for anything for a free bucket.
A popular Imgur meme asserted that in Greece, unvaccinated individuals who hadn’t received at least one dose of a vaccine by January 16 2022 would be fined €100 monthly. Contemporaneous reporting validated the meme’s claims, adding that countries like Austria had also announced similar measures.