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Letter from Athens: Zombies at the Gate: Greece's Rabid Anti-Vaxxers

Αssociated Press

Anti-vaccine protester hold Greek flags during demonstration at Syntagma square, central Athens, on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Anyone who's seen The Walking Dead knows it's not Ok to leave open one gate in the compound because if just one zombie gets in pretty soon everyone's going to be infected.

That's how it is in Greece with those who won't get vaccinated against COVID-19, a combination of the frightened and the cold refuseniks who think it's a conspiracy by governments and pharmaceutical companies to alter their DNA, something they saw on YouTube, so it's real.

Because the coronavirus is a silent, invisible killer like carbon monoxide, one of the tragedies is that people perish quietly as their last breath leaves them. If this pandemic were the plague, boils and pustules busting open and people screaming in agony on the streets, no one would question it's real.

That's unlike many of the anti-vaxxers, some of whom think it's just a hoax, the same type of people who think the Holocaust was fake and the moon landing was filmed on a Hollywood back lot with left-over scenery from Lost in Space.

While it's a duck shoot to poke fun at them, it's not funny because people are still dying and Greece is heading toward a likely new wave, spurred by the Delta variant, and because only 45 percent of the country has been fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was afraid to pull the trigger on mandatory vaccinations for months for health care workers, finally was left with no choice but to make it a requirement.

Not enough.

The pandemic won't be beaten back until at least 70 percent of people are fully inoculated and all the signs show that won't happen with a campaign of pleading, urging, cajoling, threatening – and paying the young with 150 euro incentives.

He has had the authority all along to order mandatory vaccinations – for everyone – because there are zombies among us, the unvaccinated who say it's not safe or effective, both disproved by science and the evidence.

Vaccines drove down infections hard until the campaign called Eleftheria (Freedom) ran into the wall where people who refused were still carrying the potential for infecting others.

You didn't see people on the Titanic screaming it was their right not to have a life jacket and when the vaccines were first available, political leaders did everything but elbow the sick and elderly out of the way to be the first to get them.

That included major opposition SYRIZA leader and former Premier Alexis ‘Opportunist’ Tsipras who – after his former deputy health minister Pavlos Polakis, a surgeon, denied science and the vaccines – said everyone should be vaccinated.

Having the uncanny ability to speak out of his two faces and both sides of his mouths while he has both feet in them, Tsipras said, however that the unvaccinated should be allowed the same rights as the vaccinated, such as eating in restaurants.

That follows his pattern of both supporting and denying everything so he can get  votes from both sides, but in this case it's just dangerous and adds to the killing effect of Greece's anti-vaxxers, who are more abundant than you think.

Scientists, doctors, and epidemiological experts on the government's advisory panel who follow the data are fearful that unless the rest of the country gets vaccinated – within as soon as a month, which won't happen – that the Delta variant and the unrelenting coronavirus will target them.

There's a pattern of denial that doesn't work and many of them are free riders who want the benefits of a reopening of society that the vaccinated have brought, in line with those types who want rights without responsibilities, rebels who want a pension.

This is an unprecedented health hazard and everyone must be vaccinated or else those who aren't will continue to bring sickness and death, and choke off an economy that's essential to everyone – even them – surviving this horror show.

The anti-vaxxers are the same types who believe in chem trails – that airplanes on the orders of governments are dropping stupid gas, which sadly seems to have landed only on them, and even vaccinations can't help that.

They are those who believe in conspiracy theories and line up to be hot lunches and swim where the sharks are because they think there aren't really any sharks out there, except those that swim on the land.

The irony is that for all their doubting, they are the gullible who buy into crazy conspiracies and, in Greece, who believed self-professed trillionaire Artemis Sorras would pay off their debt and the country's but asked them to pay monthly dues. He served 27 months for bilking them.

Mitsotakis said health care workers, including those in nursing homes which were hard hit, will be suspended if they don't get vaccinated.

Now he needs to bar the unvaccinated – except those whose health prevents them from being vaccinated – from restaurants, bars, taverns, concerts and any public gathering spot, including supermarkets.

This isn't debatable or negotiable and no one has the right to infect anyone else. Holding off mandatory shots for everyone injects politics, not a vaccine, and that is just as dangerous and deadly.

Earlier this summer, cases in Greece fell to as low as 300 a day. Now they have passed 3,000 and counting, unless this is all a hoax – but do the math.