Greece Offers COVID-19 Booster Shots for Elderly, Vulnerable

Αssociated Press

A woman sits outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out, in the town of Archanes, at the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

ATHENS – People in Greece with compromised immune systems and those over 60 years old can now make appointments for a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccines to further protect them.

Two shots of most versions are required – there is a single-shot type from the American firm Johnson & Johnson – and health officials said there are some 285,000 people eligible.

The boosters are being made available because of the Delta Variant from India that now makes up all the new cases and has targeted the unvaccinated especially, putting them in hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and perishing.

“It can be administered six to eight months after the second dose,” said Maria Theodoridou, head of the Greek National Vaccination Committee. “For the immuno-compromised it can be given even four weeks after the second dose,” she said, reported Kathimerini.

Theodoridou also said that 140,000 children aged 12-17 have been vaccinated to date as schools opened Sept. 13 with health officials holding their breath there are no outbreaks there

The vaccination rate for 12-to-14-year-olds is 13 percent and for 15-to-17 year olds 25 percent, the low rates worrying health and and school officials and with unvaccinated sudents – as well as teachers and staff – required to be tested twice weekly: students free, others at their own expense.

The New Democracy government is requiring shots only for health workers so far, not for teachers, clerics, police, tourism workers or other public workers despite the shooting up of the pandemic because of anti-vaxxers and people defying what's left of health measures.

Only about 56 percent of Greece's population of 10.7 million has been fully vaccinated, far less than the European Union average of 70 percent seen as the benchmark needed to slow the 18-month pandemic.

In a bid to persuade more people to be inoculated, the government is barring those who aren't from indoor spots including restaurants, bars, taverns, concert halls and movie theaters.

But that has seen a spreading of fake COVID-19 vaccinations so people who are not protected can demonstrate they are, with government officials and police conducting separate investigations.