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Greek Church on Crete Will Be COVID-19 Vaccination Center

While the Greek Church has largely been exempted from new measures aimed at slowing the COVID-19 pandemic by barring the unvaccinated from public gathering points, a church on Crete said it will host a shot center.

It's the first in Greece to do so as the church hierarchy reluctantly came around to supporting health measures – skeptics among clerics remain – and some said Holy Communion can't spread the Coronavirus.

Located in the village of Acharnes, around 20 minutes from the city of Iraklio, the Church of Agios Nikolaos will serve locals and non-locals alike who want to get their shots against the coronavirus, said Kathimerini.

The church will start administering vaccines to the public on Sept. 6, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The move is, the paper noted, symbolic as well because many anti-vaxxers whose refusal to be inoculated has spread and perpetuated the pandemic, are devout churchgoers.

“The purpose is to give the message that the Church is not against (vaccinations), that it is interested in both mental and physical health,” Father Andreas Kaliontzakis told the paper.

“We are obliged to safeguard the health of our body, the Church cannot sabotage science; theology and science must work together,” he said.

Greece's Eleftheria (Freedom) vaccination campaign has stalled at 61 percent of the population of 10.7 million receiving two shots of most versions or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson from the United States.

Health officials said at least 70 percent must be vaccinated to slow the pandemic although one member of the government's advisory panel of doctors and scientists said it should be 80-85 percent.

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