ATHENS – Faced with staunch opposition from rabid anti-vaxxers, Greek Education Minister Niki Kerameus is trying to persuade parents that COVID-19 shots are safe and effective for their children who are in school.
Students don't have to be vaccinated but those who aren't, or who don't have proof of recovery from the Coronavirus in the previous six months, must be teste twice weekly to be eligible to stay in class.
The shots aren't mandatory and the New Democracy government is still relying on a persuasion campaign that has failed to make even a dent in the those who think the shots aren't safe, don't work, or are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their minds.
“We have to convince the parents regarding the vaccination of children and the safeguarding of their health,” she told Parliament, noting that the vaccination rate – at least with one dose – of senior high school students aged 15 to 18 was only 35 percent, and just 17 percent for the 12-14 age group.
She said there are signs that's changing with 75.5 percent of students taking the first of two shots of most versions or who had recovered from the virus and were safe to be in schools. She said 87 percent of university staffs are fully inoculated.
“I think with all this the educational community is sending a resounding message of a return to normalcy, taking advantage of this unique gift of science, the vaccine,” she said, reported Kathimerini in how the program is proceeding.
The government, Kerameus added, has planned increased tests, both laboratory and self-diagnostic, which will all be free of charge for students but school staff have to pay 10 euros ($11.73) twice a week for tests if they aren't vaccinated.
Greek health authorities said they will provide a weekly briefing on COVID-19 infections among children aged 4-17, government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou told a press conference and release the data.
He said that group has seen a dramatic jump in infections since March as the Coronavirus' spread is reaching down at the same time many young think they are invulnerable and can't contract the disease.
The New Democracy government said it will keep schools open during the pandemic and not return to remote learning as occurred during lockdowns aimed at slowing the pandemic but schools will close if more than 50 percent of students are infected.