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WHO’s Kluge says vaccine ‘will be a game changer,’ urges Greeks to trust Covid-19 jab

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Receiving the vaccine for Covid-19 will be “a game changer” for each country that will allow people to gradually return to their normal lives, the WHO’s Regional Director, Hans Kluge, told public broadcaster ERT on Wednesday, in a message meant to boost public trust in the new jab.

“Getting the vaccine will be a game changer. It will be a deciding weapon against the pandemic and will help us gradually return to a normal social and economic life. The combination of getting vaccinated and following public health recommendations will offer the best protection for yourself and will help you protect others,” he said in a televised message.

Kluge also hailed Greece’s handling of the pandemic and its nationwide inoculation plan, stressing that people should not be afraid of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“This year, we have all faced a new challenge, that has shaken our way of life. No community has been spared but many have been able to keep incidence very low in Greece. That’s because this is a challenge that can be overcome if we make the right choices,” he said.

“Part of the solution is vaccination. With 200 candidate Covid-19 vaccines under development the promise is great. Here is Greece, you fully understand the returns on having high vaccination coverage,” he continued. “Your confidence and trust in the Covid-19 vaccine and the health services that provide them, will be crucial. I urge you to seek reliable information from trustworthy sources. Don’t be part of a misinformation infodemic.”

Last year, the European Region reported record-high measles cases, but Greece reported no cases at all, he continued. “That’s because the overwhelmingly vast majority of the Greek population protect themselves and their communities through a, well managed, national vaccination program” against diseases such as polio and measles.

“Getting the vaccine will be a game changer. It will be a deciding weapon against the pandemic and will help us gradually return to a normal social and economic life. The combination of getting vaccinated and following public health recommendations will offer the best protection for yourself and will help you protect others,” he continued.

Kluge stressed that all standard national regulatory processes are in place and WHO assesses all candidate Covid-19 vaccines as they complete the necessary clinical trials, while all information and data is thoroughly assessed and standards requirements for safety are met, before a vaccine is licensed.

“Those vaccines that we vaccinate over 95% of our children with to protect against polio, measles, diphtheria are licensed in exactly the same way,” he said.

Kluge also said that the Greek government has already presented a plan to roll out vaccination against Covid-19.

“The country has made great effort to make sure the limited vaccines are distributed in a fair, ethical, and transparent way. Now the plan needs to be put in action!” he said.

The WHO official reiterated the need to continue to observe physical distancing, wear a mask, clean hands and stay at home when feeling unwell.
“The role you play in the community, each and everyone of you, will determine where Covid-19 goes from here – whether we see a fierce third wave – or whether we hold the line and keep the virus at bay,” he said.

“The greatest gift to your loved ones this year may be to act responsibly – breaking the chain of transmission, supporting your health workforce and, ultimately, saving lives.”