ATHENS – Unable to persuade a hard-core adult band of anti-vaxxers that the COVID-19 vaccinations are safe, effective and not a conspiracy to control the, Greece's New Democracy government is turning to a different audience: 12 to 15-year olds.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the platform for that age group to make appointments will be ready by August as the country's Eleftheria (Freedom) vaccine campaign has stalled.
A little less than half the country's population of 10.7 million people have been vaccinated, far less than the 70 percent benchmark needed to be effective in slowing the pandemic.
Despite that, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has the authority to make vaccinations mandatory, hasn't done so except for health care workers while still exempting tourism workers even though the Coronavirus is spreading on islands.
Even as COVID-19 covers islands, the government lifted a curfew and ban on music on the popular wild party island of Mykonos after pressure from restaurant, bar and tavern owners who widely ignored health measures to make a profit during the critical summer months.
With the Delta Variant running wild and making up half the cases in the country and surging – the 40-60-year-old group of unvaccinateds is especially vulnerable – the government's persuasion campaign is failing.
But Kikilias, whose pleas have been ignored by the defiant, has tried that approach again, urging people to be inoculated, especially the young as well as those over 55 whose time to register came earlier.
Kikilias told SKAI TV said that the vaccine for the 12-15 age group has been approved and an announcement would be made soon about how the procedure will start, and that some 30,000 of 15-17 year-olds made appointments.
It takes two shots of most vaccines, several weeks or months apart, to be effective except for the single-shot Johnson & Johnson version from the United States that isn't widely in use yet.