ATHENS – There's no vaccine for COVID-19 even on the horizon yet but if one is discovered and made available it won't be mandatory in Greece but “strongly recommended,” Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said.
Greece has anti-vaccination camps – like others in the United States and other countries where vaccinations are viewed as government conspiracies, so-called Anti-Vaxxers opposing the use of injections to protect the populace.
Kikilias said if there's a vaccine it would first be offered to the highest-risk segments of society, the elderly and those with underlying conditions, who more easily succumbed to the Coronavirus.
“Who are they? Our older fellow citizens and vulnerable groups fulfilling the conditions to be vaccinated as a priority,” Kikilias told TV station SKAI. “There is now question of vaccine sufficiency and there is no mandatory vaccination, but a strong recommendation,” he added.
“Vulnerable groups,” such as the elderly and those with serious underlying diseases, will have priority, the minister said, adding that there will be no problem with vaccine supplies.
Greece has one of the best records in the world in holding down the number of cases and deaths, an early lockdown on March 23 before a single fatality cited, along with Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis deferring to scientists.
The government, which moved swiftly to beef up the woefully-inadequate health care sector buffeted by waves of budget cuts during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis is using the time now to prepare for any potential return of COVID-19.
Kikilias said new measures if needed could include those over-65 needing to send an SMS or fill a form before leaving their homes, as had been the case during the lockdown that on May 4 began weekly being lifted.
Greek health officials on July 25 said there had been 31 more cases, including eight brought by tourists as the government opened the borders in a futile bid to lure people and boost the economy in the wake of the pandemic.
Total confirmed cases now stand at 4,166, of which 201 have died. There are 10 patients on ventilators, said Kathimerini, the ministry earlier saying because of a spike of cases in their countries that visitors from Bulgaria and Romania will have to present a mandatory negative molecular test (PCR) for the virus, taken over the 72 hours preceding their arrival, beginning July 28 and lasting at least a week or more.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)