May Day: Greece’s COVID-19 Vaccinations Go Into Overdrive

Αssociated Press

People wait to receive the Moderna vaccine at Promitheas vaccination mega center in Athens, Friday, March 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS - Still far behind scheduled to reach a herd immunity level, Greece’s scheme to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population is accelerating, with some 5 million doses of various versions expected in May and the young rapidly lining up to be inoculated.

This is the third phase of the program called Eleftheria - for freedom - but reliance on a delayed European Union distribution scheme and requirement that most vaccines need two doses weeks or more than two months apart has slowed it.

Health officials said there will now be 1,500 spots, including mega-centers, where people can be vaccinated if they want as it’s not mandatory yet, and the plan is to deliver 2.5 million shots in May and 4 million in June.

Despite pushing the program and urging people to take the shots, only 1.4 million were given in April, with only about 10 percent of the country having received the two shots to be effective and the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (J & J) version delayed over fears of rare blood clots.

The government said some 2.15 million doses of the version made by the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech will be delivered in May and 2.425 million in June, reported Kathimerini.

There will also be 345,000 doses from the Cambridge, Massachusetts company of Moderna coming in May and 308,000 in June, while J & J will ship 300,000 in May and 960,00 in June.

The version from the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca hasn’t made any delivery pledges and faces legal action from the EU for failing to meet contract schedules, also hindered over blood clot worries.