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Greece Offers COVID Booster Shots for Vulnerable, Over-60’s

September 21, 2021

ATHENS – It won't be mandatory but Greece will make COVID-19 booster shots available to those most susceptible to the Coronavirus or over 60 years old as the vaccination campaign to slow the pandemic has stalled.

Only 56.7 percent of Greeks are fully vaccinated with two shots of most versions or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson from the United States that has been less in use, but some scientists said boosters are needed for the most vulnerable.

A benchmark of 70 percent of the population of 10.7 million is needed to be inoculated to beat back the pandemic that's gone on for 18 months and counting, with fears of a fourth wave in the autumn.

Also eligible, said Kathimerini, are the elderly at care units, as well as health care  professionals, a small percentage of whom aren't vaccinated at all, refusing shots, for which they've been suspended without pay.

Marios Themistokleous, Secretary-General in charge of vaccinations, said an online platform to make an appointment for booster shots will open on Sept. 30, only for those whose last shot was six to eight months earlier.

The president of the National Vaccination Committee, Maria Theodoridou, said that, “Vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death,” with the now-dominant Delta Variant targeting the unvaccinated.

“Antibodies as an indicator of the immune response decrease over time, five to six months after vaccination,” she said, showing that with the rise of Delta that the Coronavirus' resilience still poses “a risk to a number of individuals.”

The most susceptible, she said, are those who did not develop antibodies when they were first vaccinated (immunosuppressed individuals, transplants), and need the booster to supplement that.

The second group at risk are those for whom factors such as age and others (underlying diseases) lead to reduced antibodies, while the third group consists of people most exposed to the virus.

“The National Committee gave a positive opinion first for the immunocompromised,” she said, noting that older people at care units and people over the age of 60 are next in line, the paper reported.

She also stressed that “the increased risk in people over 60 is reflected in epidemiological data.” She added: “The percentage age distribution of patients aged 60-79 years in special ICU beds reached 59.02 percent and 48 percent respectively in deaths,” indicating the danger.

“We see a significant burden at this age,” she said, adding, “The group over 60 has the criteria to show that it needs reinforcement with a third dose.”

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