NEWS

Greece navigating uncharted waters 

Gov’t banking on uptick in vaccinations to offset impact of Delta variant, fourth wave 

greece-navigating-uncharted-waters

The arrival in full force of the Delta coronavirus variant and the new spike in cases is prompting the government to step up efforts to boost vaccination rates, amid growing concern about the possible effects on tourism and the economy in general.

With the advent of a fourth wave of the pandemic a foregone conclusion, government officials are sounding the alarm, as current data suggests that by the fall, Greece will still be below, albeit marginally, the threshold needed to build the coveted wall of immunity.

Even though vaccination rates have indeed picked up significantly over the last week, the government is still reeling over a recent public opinion poll by Pulse for Skai TV, which found that 40% of those who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 said they won’t be.

In light of these developments, the government is seeking a grassroots approach by engaging local authorities and even the church to increase the percentage of vaccinated people. Indicatively, in one village, participation in the inoculation program is at just 5% because the local priest is against vaccines.

​​​At present, however, the government does not intend to make any major adjustments to its planning. The decisions expected in the current phase mainly concern the mandatory vaccination of certain occupational categories, as well as how indoor areas will operate.

Final decisions are expected to be announced this week.

However, according to information, the compulsory vaccination for workers at care facilities for the elderly and the disabled has already been decided, while it remains to be seen whether the same rules will apply for healthcare providers, now or later. While the vaccination rates of medical staff overall are particularly high, the same cannot be said about nurses.

Government sources have also noted that there is an ongoing debate whether compulsory vaccination should be extended to other categories, such as teachers and military conscripts, with the concerns being more of a practical rather than legal nature. The indecision stems from the fact that there is no precedent, as similar measures have not been taken in any other country. 

Officials are also in two minds over how exactly to sanction someone who is serving in the military for refusing to get vaccinated.