NEWS

AZ vaccine losing luster among the Greek public

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Growing uncertainty over the link between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and a rare type of cerebral blood clot in the wake of new findings by the European Medicines Agency, has Greek health authorities trying to ensure that doses are not wasted as a result of public skepticism.

“People are trying to avoid it or find a different vaccine at another center. If they fail, they simply don’t show up and miss their appointment,” a member of the committee of health experts advising the government on the pandemic told Kathimerini on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

The head of the Patra Medical Association, meanwhile, said that just 10 people had showed up for the AZ vaccine at one of the western port city’s vaccination centers by Wednesday afternoon, as opposed to an average of 120 on previous days.

Pharmacists are also coming under pressure from citizens booked for AZ shots to change their appointments in the hopes of lucking out, according to the head of their union in Thessaloniki. “What citizens ask for initially is to change their appointment and have one of the other vaccines. That isn’t possible, so what they do then is ask to change the appointment to a later date,” said Dionysis Evgenidis. “They feel safer that way.”

Their comments come hours after Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias assured that take-up of the AZ shot is “very high,” at around 93 percent. According to the National Organization of Public Health, the rate of cancellations between March 27 and April 3 was just 3% for the AZ shot and 1% for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The idea that appears to be gaining ground in the government to avoid wasting any shots, Kathimerini understands, is to restrict use of the AZ shot to specific groups like tourism or transport workers.

Greece has already received around 346,000 doses of the AZ vaccine and expects 450,000 doses each in April, May and June.