NEWS

Worried Greeks snap up flu shots

As Greece’s pharmacies run out of flu shots because of high demand, the country’s pharmacists are asking people to refrain from buying the vaccine unnecessarily until new supplies arrive next month. Many pharmacies in Athens have completely sold out of the flu vaccines and are waiting for a new batch from pharmaceutical companies. The 1.6 million doses of the flu vaccine that Greece has ordered are expected to arrive in the country by the beginning of next month, the head of the National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF), Dimitris Vagionas, told Kathimerini. Some 300,000 shots have already been delivered to pharmacies and another 400,000 are expected to be available to customers by Thursday. «People should not be worried because any shortages being experienced at the moment are to do with delivery times and not due to inadequate orders being placed by authorities,» Vagionas said. Vagionas reminded people that the medicine is meant for those who may be at a higher risk of getting the flu, such as pensioners and people suffering from other illnesses, and should not be taken by everyone. He cited an example of a pharmacist in a village of 600 ordering 400 flu shots as evidence that the drug is being used too widely. «The sufficiency of anti-flu jabs depends on whether Greeks react properly and experience shows that they do not react properly,» said Constantinos Lourandos, the head of the Athens Pharmaceutical Association. Lourandos said there had been a large increase in demand for flu shots over the last three years because of bird flu fears even though the vaccine does not protect against avian flu. The Health Ministry has recommended to pharmacists that they only administer flu shots to people who have a doctor’s prescription. Lourandos said that most pharmacies implement this method because of the shortage of flu jabs.