ATHENS – The list of government and state officials given priority vaccination against Covid-19 ends with the 66 people already inoculated, deputy government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said on the radio station "Parapolitika 90.1" on Wednesday.
The remaining government members, like all other Greeks, will be vaccinated when their turn comes based on the priority sequence decided by the National Vaccinations Commitee, she added.
She also clarified that there was a "fundamental misunderstanding" concerning the vaccinations for symbolic reasons, in order to send a message of unity to all Greeks that the vaccine was safe. These were restricted to the prime minister and the state and political leadership, she pointed out, and would conclude on Wednesday with the vaccination of Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas.
Commenting on the social media posts of vaccinations uploaded by members of the government, Peloni said that they were ill-advised "as some exaggerated the image". She also repeated, however, that the officials getting vaccinations were those deemed essential for the smooth functioning of the state and government, those who were in charge of crucial areas that couldn't "operate on automatic pilot".
She noted that these accounted for 66 of 1,128 vaccinations carried out in the country by Tuesday evening and the priority now was to press ahead with the vaccinations of healthcare staff, retirement home residents and staff, as well as the patients and staff in long-term care and recovery facilities, so that this was completed by January 20.
Government has converted vaccination from a right to privilege, SYRIZA claims
Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance spokesperson Nasos Iliopoulos on Wednesday accused the government of converting the vaccination against Covid-19 from "a right to a privilege" and strongly criticised the "spectacle of government officials aged 36 and 40 years old getting vaccinated and taking selfies when healthcare personnel on the front line are left out."
"The symbolism of vaccinations ended with the President of the Republic, the political leaders and the people on the front line. From that point on, the political favours begin. Nor can vaccination be turned into a communications spectacle," Iliopoulos said.
He cited complaints by workers at Sotiria Hospital that 21 government officials were given priority over healthcare professionals, while he also accused the government of making "serious mistakes".
"The first of these we saw repeated in the summer, when it cultivated a climate of complacency by saying that we had beaten the pandemic. It repeated this ahead of the supposed two million vaccines we were to receive. Yet again it did not take the measures necessary to save human lives. Truly, if someone had told you in spring that we would have 4,104 dead in November and December, would you not have spoken of a tragedy? We are experiencing a tragedy and we have not once heard the government say sorry," Iliopoulos said.
The government's second mistake, he added, was to not alter its plan for the support of health, society and the economy when the two million vaccines it had counted on getting in January failed to materialise.
Iliopoulos accused the government of deliberately choosing to not strengthen the public health system because this was contrary to its political agenda for privatising health. A majority of society, he added, now rejected the government's choices and supported SYRIZA's proposals for health, employment and bankruptcy law, forcing the government to backtrack on this, as well as its plans to stop free medicines for 600,000 low-income pensioners.