ATHENS – With many Greeks shunning vaccinations – an annual problem – 39 have died from complications the flu since October, including a five-year-old girl on Crete and an infant under a year old who had pre-existing medical condition.
Most did not get a flu shot as recommended with many Greeks believing it ineffective or risking they chance they won’t get ill, despite recommendations from the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) for them to innoculated.
KEELPNO said there has been a spike in cases over the last 10 days up to Feb. 7, when 21 out of this flu season’s 39 deaths occurred, while more than 50 patients were put in intensive care. The overwhelming majority were people in high-risk groups – the elderly, young children and people with chronic ailments.
Since last October, 165 patients, including nine children, have received treatment in intensive care units, said Kathimerini, with health officials urging people to still get a flu shot and that they should seek medical attention within 48 hours of becoming ill.
“There is an onslaught of the flu every year … The public and the relevant authorities must be vigilant,” said Sotirios Tsiodras, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and infectious diseases at the medical school of Athens University, during a press conference hosted by KEELPNO.
Tsiodras added that 30,000-40,000 people die each year in Europe because of the flu while at least 10-15 percent of the population is infected. Health authorities said that 2,226,530 vaccines have been imported into the country.
Yiannis Baskozos, General Secretary of the Health Ministry said, another 50,000 vaccines have been ordered and will be available at pharmacies by Feb. 15.