Greece aims at vaccinating entire adult population by July

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias expressed his confidence in the accelerating pace of the unfolding national vaccination program for Covid-19 at Wednesday’s regular live briefing.

With over 100,000 inoculations reached on Wednesday alone, the minister said that some 2.3 million vaccine doses are expected to be administered in the month of May, thus surpassing the 5 mln mark at the end of the month. Deliveries of the vaccines are proceeding without problems, he added.

“The target is to have vaccinated all adults by end-June to the start of July,” the minister underlined.

Despite an apparent improvement in the country’s epidemiological profile, through the administration of both vaccines and self tests, the current rolling average of new daily infections stands at 1,776 with 20,000 active infections nationally. The median age of new infections stands at 43 years, he added. The positivity rate has stayed below the 5 pct threshold, at 4.6 pct., he pointed out.

Finally, the specifics of a public health plan for Greek islands will be announced in coming days, the minister highlighted, before urging anew older citizens to book for their vaccination.

Younger generation leads the way

Speaking at the same briefing, head of the National Vaccination Committee Maria Theodoridou congratulated people in their 30s for “their enthusiastic response” to booking vaccinations, and said it would be great if “each one of these young people took a hesitant older citizen to a vaccination center,” as there is a great percentage number of older citizens over 65 who have yet to book for their vaccine.

Theodoridou also expressed her satisfaction for the fact that the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine started in Greece on Wednesday, calling it an easy and convenient vaccine with 77 pct to 80 pct protection against Covid-19. She also cautioned people who had done one of two doses of other vaccines to show up for their second dose, citing Pfizer or AstraZeneca data that shows a 50 pct reduction of infection rate three weeks after vaccination.

In addition, Theodoridou said that people should not rush to do antibodies tests to check the effectiveness of the vaccines, as antibodies are half of the picture in immunity. “There is also cellular immunity,” she said and a negative antibodies test alone does not contribute to public faith in vaccines.

In terms of thrombosis incidents reported about some of the vaccines, she said that Greece has registered only one such case. Asked about the death of a woman in Thessaloniki on Wednesday, one day after receiving her vaccine, the professor said that according to a post-mortem examination her death appears to have been related to a heart attack following an earlier one.

Most aged 30-44 to be vaccinated by end-May

Greece hopes to have vaccinated at least 33 percent of the population with at least one dose by the end of May, Secretary General of Primary Health Care Marios Themistocleous said at the briefing.

In the first briefing after the Orthodox Easter holidays, Themistocleous said that up to Wednesday 2.26 million citizens (or 21.5 pct of the population) had been vaccinated with the first dose and nearly 1 million (10 pct) with both. The target for the end of May is to have 5.4 million vaccinations, with 3.5 million related to the first dose (33 pct of the population) and nearly 2 million with the second (18 pct).

Today’s (May 5) vaccinations may reach 110,000, he noted.

Themistocleous broke down the vaccination rates per age group, with the youngest groups proceeding at a clip since the recent opening of the platform for them. Following is the vaccination rates per age group that he presented.

⦁ 30-39: 177,000 people have set up 354,000 appointments; 65,000 have already been vaccinated. The majority of this group is expected to be vaccinated by mid-May.

⦁ 40-44: 117,750 people have set up 235,000 appointments; 31,000 have already been vaccinated. The majority of this group will be vaccinated within the next 2 weeks.

⦁ 45-49: 250,000 appointments have been set up and 3,112 people have already been vaccinated.

The older groups, which were prioritized during the rollout of vaccination in Greece, stand as follows:

⦁ Over 85: 63 pct is vaccinated with at least one dose (68 pct, if appointments are incorporated)

⦁ 80-84: 63 pct is vaccinated with at least one dose (68 pct with appointments)

⦁ 75-79: 73 pct is vaccinated (80 pct w/a). Themistocleous said that this group had the highest vaccination rate.

⦁ 70-74: 58 pct is vaccinated (74 pct w/a)

⦁ 65-69: 40 pct is vaccinated (74 pct w/a)

⦁ 60-64: 53 pct is vaccinated with one dose (67 pct w/a)

Themistocleous also reviewed the number of vaccines expected to be delivered by Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson (the use of which began Wednesday), and AstraZeneca in May. He said more vaccination centers will be added in May to those already in use (1,500) and will include private facilities as well.