ATHENS – Vaccinations against COVID-19 that are slowing the pandemic will be available to all adults in Greece by June 30, but the New Democracy government isn't yet ready to make them mandatory.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias told SKAI radio that almost 115,000 residents aged 30-39 have already booked vaccinations for the United Kingdom's AstraZeneca (AZ) dose, as well as nearly 22,000 aged 40-44.
He said that more than 10,000 in the 30-39 age group had received the first of two required jabs, both needing to be fully effective as is the case with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, one shot from Johnson & Johnson (J & J).
He said plans are being put in place to vaccinate people who for health reasons can't leave their homes, and that it's likely that will be done with the J & J vaccine that had been temporarily suspended because of fears of rare blood clots.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said while urging everyone to be vaccinated that he couldn't force health care workers on the front line of fighting the pandemic to be inoculated without saying why not.
He will instead reportedly offer them a bonus if they do it, paying them for it as the government's vaccination scheme, rapidly picking up after a woefully slow start because it relied on a cumbersome European Union distribution plan, is being mocked by the major opposition SYRIZA.
Leftist leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras criticized the plan to give those 30-39 the AZ vaccine that also had been temporarily held back over fears of blood clot side effects, saying the government wants to “move the stock,” to the young instead.
This week, Greece opened its booking system for younger age groups for access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was more readily available in the country as it proved to be less popular with the older age groups.
Those aged between 30 and 44 can now book appointments for the AstraZeneca vaccine, while those aged 50 and above are also being vaccinated, with all available vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and, as of next month, Johnson and Johnson. The booking system opens for those aged 45-49 on Saturday.