A medical staff member of the National Health Organization (EODY) conducts a Covid-19 rapid test on a bicycle rider at a drive-through testing site at the Athens southern coastal suburb of Paleo Faliro, Wednesday, December 23, 2020. Health officials warned that extra restrictions might be enforced over New Year if Greeks fail to respect Christmas restrictions as Greece is under lockdown, and has seen new infections drop to three digits over the past few day. [Thanassis Stavrakis/AP]
Vaccinations to proceed in three phases
The vaccination of the general population against Covid-19 is scheduled to begin in February, starting with the elderly and vulnerable groups, the authorities said Wednesday.
This will be preceded by the inoculation of health workers and residents of nursing homes, as well as President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Parliament Speaker Konstantinos Tasoulas and 42 other senior officials of the government, the military and police.
The third phase is expected to start in June, provided that sufficient quantities of the vaccine are available, and will include healthy people aged 18 to 59.
More specifically, according to the operational plan for the nationwide vaccination campaign, the first phase, starting on Sunday, includes health and social workers, nursing home staff and residents, as well as workers and residents of facilities for the chronically ill and rehabilitation centers. Staff for critical government operations will also be vaccinated in this phase.
The second phase, scheduled to begin in February, will begin with people over the age of 70 (starting with the over-85s), patients at risk of serious illness regardless of age, people aged 60 to 69, and priority staff for critical functions of the state.
The rest of the general population (over 18 years old) will follow in the third phase in June.
Overall, based on the European Union joint procurement from six companies that are developing the vaccines, Greece will be allocated a total of 28.3 million doses. It expects to receive 1,265,550 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the end of March, which correspond to approximately 630,000 people.
The European Medicines Agency will consider approving the Moderna vaccine on January 6. This procedure will also be followed for the AstraZeneca vaccine in February.
Meanwhile, health authorities on Wednesday confirmed 937 new SARS-CoV-2 infections, which drove the total number to 133,365. At the same time, 62 patients died from Covid-19, raising the total number of fatalities to 4,402. The median age of those who died was 79 years.
The total number of intubated patients stood at 495 (with an average age of 67).
Also on Wednesday, the prime minister reiterated his call for people to avoid big home gatherings for Christmas and to limit celebrations to very close family reunions.