ATHENS – A fourth wave looming as a vaccination campaign against COVID-19 slowed during the summer, Greece will authorize pediatricians to give shots to 12-17 Year-olds seen at risk from the resurging pandemic.
The especially contagious Delta Variant from India, anti-vaxxers and people defying what's left of health measures have combined to bring a big rebound of cases, hospitalizations, people in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and deaths.
Health officials fear the Coronavirus will spread even more in the colder weather of the autumn and coincide with flu season, with booster shots being offered soon to those over-60 as well as the most vulnerable.
Children's doctors in private practice as well as in the public sector will be allowed to give the jabs, said Kathimerini, with an official edict soon to be given as the virus continues to spread after being held down earlier in the summer.
“We’re a week before the opening of [public] schools and I believe this is the perfect time to launch a great new effort to increase the vaccination rate among minors,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told officials, the paper said.
Maria Theodoridou, President of Greece’s National Vaccination Committee, said that, “Because pediatricians often play the role of family doctor for many Greek families, they will be asked whether children should be vaccinated or not, so their support is crucial,” to the effort.
Vaccinated 12-17 year-olds can play a “catalytic role in controlling the pandemic” added infectious disease Prof. Sotiris Tsiodras, one of the leading members of the committee advising the government on COVID-19.
He said almost 100 percent of the new cases in the country come from Delta, making the vaccination of the young critical with schools reopening Sept. 13 and the government not wanting a return to remote learning as during lockdowns.
“The high transmissibility of the Delta Variant also concerns our children, which is why it is so important that measures for preventing the spread of the virus are upheld at schools,” he said, adding that three of his seven children – those aged 12-17 – have been vaccinated.
Mitsotakis said the vaccines that have slowed the pandemic are the “biggest gift science has ever given humanity,” and told his officials to “remind people as part of our overall public discourse that no scientific discovery has extended the human lifespan like the vaccine.” The approach has largely failed to persuade doubters so far though.