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Politics

Greek Health Min: The Benefits of the Vaccine Far Exceed Any Side Effects

ATHENS — The beneficial effects of the vaccine are immensely greater than any undesirable side effects, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on Tuesday in an interview with 'action 24' television channel.

"The undesirable effects of the vaccine are infinitesimally small as compared to its beneficial effects. This is what the European Medicines Agency, the World Health Organisation, the FDA in the United States and the vast majority of all doctors and specialists all over the world say. A woman taking contraceptives is 20,000 times more likely to have a blood clot. So is a man who smokes and drinks," Kikilias said.

Referring to the national health system, he said that it was being transformed, modernised and was heading towards a new era, in spite of all those who believed the opposite. Specifically, he said: "We fought a huge battle, all of us together, the doctors, the public hospitals, the military hospitals, the private clinics. A battle that we fought every day for the national health system to stay standing, to survive to fight another day. While other strong, rich countries did not hold up, the national health system Greece stayed upright during the pandemic."

35-39 age group able to sign up for vaccination as of Wednesday

The 35-39 age group will be able to set appointments for coronavirus vaccinations as of Wednesday, Health Secretary General Marios Themistocleous said on Monday, and all four vaccines will be available to them.

As Greece has opened most adult age groups for appointments and more vaccines are getting delivered, all types of vaccines – AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer – used in Greece for age-specific groups are becoming gradually available for all age groups.

The 40–44 age group was the first to be administered all types of vaccines on May 21. Themistocleous added at the regular pandemic briefing that the next group to be added will be the 30-34 one.

He added that on Monday Greece passed the 5-million threshold of inoculations. A total of 3,250,000 individuals have received at least one dose of a vaccine (31 pct of population), and 1,800,000 citizens (17.2 pct) have completed their vaccination with either a two-dose or a single-dose vaccine.

Also speaking at the briefing, head of the National Vaccination Committee Maria Theodoridou said the committee recommends that people who have recovered from Covid-19 be vaccinated between 6 and 12 months after the illness' onset.

The medical expert explained that the decision is based on a revision of understanding of immunity achieved through antibodies, whose life span can reach up to 12 months or beyond.

Citing another study, she highlighted the fact that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against the British and Indian coronavirus variants, at 86 pct and 66 pct respectively.

Vaccines are also safe for pregnant women or those nursing their babies, Theodoridou underlined. She also pointed out that it was wrong for people who have had side effects after the first vaccination to cancel their appointments for the second one, as the side effects are expected for vaccinations.

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