ATHENS – More Greek political leaders and appointees are slated to get COVID-19 inoculations in a first batch of the vaccine the New Democracy government said would be reserved for frontline healthcare workers and the most susceptible to the Coronavirus, including the elderly.
After Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took the shot to set an example that the vaccine is safe and effective, so too did President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and others on the list included major opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras.
Also going to get the first vaccinations in an initial batch of only 9,750 – enough for 4,875 people because two shots are required three weeks apart – is Parliament Speaker Konstantinos Tasoulas, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias and Health Ministry Secretary General for Primary Health Care Marios Themistokleous said Kathimerini, reporting it was for “symbolic” purposes.
The government and other parties said they want to send a message to people not to be afraid of the shot or side effects as the second wave of the Coronavirus has surged, with 135,456 infections and 4,606 deaths.
There is a small but vocal anti-vaccination movement in Greece, as in other countries, who think COVID-19 is either a hoax or designed by governments to control them, but equally worrying to the government is the numbers who don’t oppose vaccines but are wary of this one because of how fast it was developed.
Healthcare workers in public hospitals began getting the shot Dec. 27 and set to continue for as long as the first batch lasts as the government earlier said there would be millions available, then 300,000 and now cut further.
Nearly half of Greeks surveyed said they won’t take the shot and health officials said at least 70 percent of the population needs to be inoculated to help slow and stop the pandemic.
Vaccinations will be carried out at Attica’s five reference hospitals: Evangelismos, Sotiria, Attikon, Thriasio and Asklipion as those receiving them must be monitored at least 15 minutes to insure there are no serious side effects for those with allergies, including anaphylactic shock.
There were 342 cases on Dec. 27 and 53 deaths, marking the 10th consecutive day the numbers were below 1,000 after soaring past 3,000 earlier after Mitsotakis admitted he waited too long to bring a second lockdown.
That began Nov. 7 and was scheduled to be lifted Dec. 7 but now extended until at least Jan. 7, 2021 but could be continued if the epidemiological data shows the pandemic isn’t being brought under control.
Cases had jumped because so many people weren’t following health protocols such as wearing masks or staying safe social distances and the hope is that with more now doing so that, along with the vaccination, the fight against COVID-19 could start being won after 10 months.