ATHENS — Touting vaccinations as the key to slow and hopefully end the COVID-19 pandemic, Greece has given less than four million shots so far, putting the country sixth in the European Union in administering them.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has repeatedly praised the Eleftheria (Freedom) program but only 15.7 percent of residents in a country with 10.7 million has have been fully vaccinated – two shots required weeks or months apart except for the single-shot Johnson & Johnson dose from the United States.
Health experts said at least 70 percent, or 7.49 million people, need to be vaccinated to be effective against the Coronavirus but the government, which had relied on a cumbersome European Union distribution scheme, is adding millions more doses in May and June.
The ECDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker put Greece at 29.5 percent for one of two doses compared to an EU average of 35.5 percent although the full vaccination rate is slightly higher than the average of 14.1 percent bloc-wide.
Bulgaria has the lowest use for one dose at 11.7 percent and only 6.3 percent for full vaccinations while Slovakia is close to Greece with 29.9 percent for one dose and 13.9 percent for two shot said Kathimerini.
Greece's system is fast and easy to use though, with people making appointments on their mobile phones or through pharmacies and getting reminders of the date and time, with staffs at various facilities, including mega-centers providing swift service.