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Greece Readies COVID-19 Shots for 18-25 Year-Olds, Travel Tests

ATHENS – When Greece's advisory panel of doctors and scientists gives approval, the government will start offering COVID-19 vaccinations for the 18-25 year-old group that has been particularly obstinate about getting them.

They will be offered 150 euros ($178.22) in a digital wallet as an incentive, an idea denounced by the major rival SYRIZA as “bribery,” as the New Democracy government is trying to reach a benchmark of 70 percent of the population to be effective against the pandemic.

Greece is about 37 percent of full vaccinations, with two shots required apart from the single-shot Johnson & Johnson version from the United States.

Overall, including those with just one shot so far, some 44 percent of Greeks over  18 have been vaccinated but the government is eager to up the numbers as more tourists are due to arrive in July. 

There's also worry that the contagious Delta variant from India could spread fast this summer and target the unvaccinated, including a small but boisterous group of anti-vaxxers who don't think they are safe or effective despite scientific evidence they are working.

A member of the country’s vaccinations committee said they were considering advising the government to target youngsters aged 15 to 17 said Reuters in a report on the growing program to provide safety.

The Health Ministry’s committee has also recommended that people who are unvaccinated should present a negative PCR or rapid Coronavirus test when they want to travel to another region but self tests won't be accepted, said Kathimerini. 

The cost of PCR tests, some 60 euros ($71.29) is prohibitive for many Greeks and seen driving more toward free vaccinations. 

That's over an expectation of more travel within the country by Greeks and residents, and fears those who didn't get inoculated could again spread the virus and kick start another wave.

The panel also recommended that the new European Union-wide travel pass – also known as Digital Green Certificate – should be used for domestic travel by ferry, air or rail. Travelers will have to present the QR code on their certificate during checks, the paper said.

Greece also began to vaccinate inmates at all correctional facilities against Covid-19, another report said, using the J & J US shot, with some 6,105 inmates asking to be inoculated at 27 centers inside the prisons.

In comments made at the Korydallos maximum security prison, the General Secretary for Crime Policy at the Citizens’ Protection Ministry, Sofia Nikolaou, urged more inmates to receive the vaccine so as to help build a “wall of immunity” inside the prisons the report added.

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