Greece is among many countries around the world that has seen discontinuation of vaccinations during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) based on sales data, the drop in many countries in March and April was to the tune of 30-50 percent for young children and up to 70 percent for teenagers.
In a circular this week, the Greek Health Ministry confirmed that Greece is among those countries with reductions of up to 50 percent for ages up to 2 and 70 percent for older teens.
“The measures to protect public health due to the Covid-19 pandemic have changed our daily lives and affected our priorities,” said Artemis K. Tsitsika, head of the Adolescent Health Unit at the University of Athens, and Eleni Panagouli, pediatrician and associate research scientist at the University of Athens.
“The recommendation to avoid travel and contact with health services has resulted in a discontinuation of vaccinations for children and adolescents,” they added.
In a circular issued in late March, the Directorate of Public Health, in collaboration with the National Vaccination Committee, pointed out the risks associated with failing to keep up with scheduled vaccinations, even for a short time.
Such a situation, the circular noted, can lead to a rise in illnesses and significantly increase the likelihood of an epidemic outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases.
In a second statement in May, the National Vaccination Committee urged the timely and complete vaccination of all age groups according to the recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule, and especially those that have been delayed.
According to experts, this is a good choice for a number of reasons, not least among them the return of children and adolescents to their normal day-to-day activities and the subsequent higher risk of infection with vaccine-preventable diseases.
Tsitsika and Panagouli also warned that unvaccinated children may lead to a recurrence of diseases from the past, as was the case with measles in 2018-19.