ATHENS – It's still way behind the initial ambitious schedule that was slowed by a cumbersome European Union distribution program, but Greece's accelerating COVID-19 vaccination program is loosening the pandemic's grip and lessening hospitalizations.
Cases are gradually declining, after a surge over relaxed lockdown conditions during Easter, and health officials point to critical indicators as proof the vaccinations that some, including workers, shun, are highly effective.
Some 90 percent of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals between April 12 and May 2 were not vaccinated, 8 percent had gotten one of two required doses of most of the versions, and only 2 percent had both, the Health Ministry said.
That's in line with similar experiences around the world although those who had been vaccinated but gotten infected displayed only mild, or no symptoms, and were not at risk of perishing.
The numbers in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) that were being overwhelmed is also going down although health officials continue to warn against complacency with the lockdown essentially over apart from wearing maks.
Some 1.3 million of Greece's population of 10.7 million – a little more than 12 percent – have been fully inoculated, with the single-shot US-made Johnson & Johnson version in use although 70 percent – 7.49 million – is required to push back the pandemic faster.
O the 1.3 million people who have been fully vaccinated, less than 0.3% became ill through the middle of the first week of May, said Kathimerini, adding that there's been a big drop in the number of elderly patient hospitalizations as that sector was the first, after politicians, to get shots.
“We have far fewer patients now over the age of 80 and almost all of them are unvaccinated with one or two exceptions,” Mina Gaga, Director of the 7th Pulmonary Clinic of Sotiria hospital, said.
She said that during the peak in November 2020 when another lockdown was brought that the hospital had some 200 patients over the age of 80 when fear was rising just as fast.
“In this wave, which was much more severe, we have so far had about 80 admissions of patients in this age group, and only two were vaccinated,” she said, another sign the shots are working.