The road to “Freedom” – as the Greek government has dubbed its coronavirus vaccination drive – promises to be a bumpy one. We have already learned that Greece will receive a much smaller number of jabs in January than originally anticipated. The bad news conveyed by the government spokesman – that we’ll be getting 300,000 instead of 1 million vaccines next month – is starting to make us realize that getting as much of the population inoculated as necessary will be anything but easy. And if it’s any comfort, Greece is not the exception, as this will be the case in many, many countries.
People with inside knowledge of the preparations going into the vaccination campaign say it’s tantamount to a military operation. This also raises the question whether naming the campaign “Freedom” was a deliberate reference to the fact that 2021 also marks the bicentennial anniversary of the Greek War of Independence. Maybe they thought that since the coronavirus has deprived us of so many activities, then the successful vaccination of the population will be akin to a liberation that can be celebrated when the time comes.
The government often gives the impression of being in a rush. In no way does the start of the vaccination operation mean that we’ll be free soon and this is something that it ought to be transmitting much more forcefully in order to check excessive expectations. It will be a long time before we can hug our friends again, shake hands and travel with abandon, get together in groups and even – for many of us – return to work. It will be a long time – if ever – before we can throw out our masks and see our lives return to pre-Covid normal.
The road to “Freedom” is long and it will also be painful. The continued presence of the coronavirus, meanwhile, is not the only obstacle that lies in the way; we will also have to contend with the anti-vaxxer movement, which only seems to be growing stronger.
According to some recent surveys, 30-40% of respondents will either refuse to be inoculated or are skeptical. These people come from every age group, though mainly from the 35-44 range, where 57% are opposed to the jab.
As the government has repeatedly stressed, this is a group effort, a common goal, a national aspiration. For “Freedom” to succeed, everyone needs to rally behind it, and for this to happen, the overwhelming majority must be convinced of its necessity. This is where the first big battle will be fought – on agreeing that we need to treat the coronavirus vaccination operation like a military campaign, fought on the field where ignorance meets hyperbole and paranoia in the form of conspiracy theories stating that the jabs are a way for Bill Gates to microchip us or to alter our DNA. The battle needs to start in the arena where reason ends.