“It is a mistake to think that as spring approaches, the pandemic is over,” Marios Themistokleous, president of the National Vaccination Committee, said. So, a fourth dose of vaccination is needed.
As our readers predicted, third dose did not become the last, despite the numerous promises of the authorities. At today’s EOHA (National Health Organization of Greece) briefing, it was announced that the 4th wave of vaccination for immunocompromised people will start on January 20th.
The committee’s decision to open the site for the fourth dose of the vaccine was announced on January 20 during a briefing on the progress of the vaccination program by Committee Chair Maria Theodoridou and Primary Health Care Secretary General Flendoros Theron.
According to the statement, the 4th dose should be administered three months after immunocompromised third parties over 12 years of age.
The Chairman of the National Committee, speaking about the end of 1 year from the start of vaccination in our country and two years from the moment of infection in Wuhan, said that it has now been proven that the introduction of vaccines makes an invaluable contribution to preventing deaths from Covid 19.
She also said that a recent study showed that the neutralizing ability of antibodies in children was the same as in adults, and the cellular ability was twice as high as that of minors. Antibodies in children persist for more than six months, and vaccination during pregnancy does not cause premature birth.
Antibodies in children
According to Ms. Theodoridou, “we knew from the beginning that the disease was milder in children. Although Omicron has increased the number of hospitalizations of children in hospitals, both in the world and in our country.” According to her, for children under one year old, the disease is not serious, and their hospitalization is mainly carried out for preventive purposes.
Referring to the results of another study, Ms. Theodoridou said that cellular immunity in children is twice as high as in adults. “The antibodies in children persist for more than six months,” she said, adding that “children have a very good immune response,” and this may justify having a mild infection in the upper rather than lower respiratory tract in children. She said that “children seem to develop strong defense mechanisms against covid-19 infection.”
Significant side effects from the virus in the fetus
The chairman of the vaccination committee made special mention of pregnant women, emphasizing once again that “this is a high-risk group” and adding that it is wrong to be afraid of vaccines and not get vaccinated, since side effects for themselves, but mainly for the fetus, predominate from virus.
Referring to more recent studies conducted in the US between 2000 and 2021 that examined low birth weight and preterm infants depending on whether pregnant women were vaccinated, she noted that vaccination was the same for vaccinated and non-pregnant women. This means, she said, that “the CDC now strongly recommends vaccination for women who are pregnant and about to become pregnant” as safe.
Also, referring to another study from Scotland, she said that vaccination during pregnancy significantly protects the mother and newborn, since covid-19 infection affects both in some cases.
“It is wrong to assume that spring is coming and the pandemic is over”
At the end of her report on the future of the pandemic, the chairperson of the committee said that the scientists concluded: “it is impossible to predict when the pandemic will end, so they ask everyone to continue to comply with the measures and get vaccinated.” Improper vaccination coverage prolongs the pandemic, Ms Theodoridou concluded, reiterating that vaccines help prevent hospitalization for serious illness and death.
Specifically on the Omicron variant, she said that the unvaccinated are ten times more likely to contract the coronavirus and twenty times more likely to get sick, but elaborated that, as Omicron has shown, vaccines cannot protect someone from getting infected. Answering a journalist’s question, she said that the opinion expressed that we are ending the pandemic in the spring is wrong.
As for childhood vaccines. She said a platform was open to sign up for certain dates, and vaccination of children on islands with fewer than 1,000 people has begun. To date, 65,000 children have been vaccinated, with 57,000 more appointments scheduled and 50,000 free appointments across the country. The only area showing an increased demand for childhood vaccines is Attica, and new appointments will be opened in the coming days, Mr. Themistocleous noted.
Regarding the mandatory vaccination of citizens over 60, he said that since the announcement of the measure, 208,000 citizens have been vaccinated, and the vaccination rate for people over 60 exceeds 90.2%. He also clarified that all unvaccinated over 60 years old will pay from today a fine of 100 euros per month.
Repeated certificate expiration reminder after 7 months
More than 750,000 appointments are available for revaccination until January 31, Mr. Themistocleous said and urged citizens to get vaccinated. From 1 February, the vaccination certificate will expire 7 months after the second dose. Thus, all citizens aged 18 years and over were to receive a booster dose within seven months of completion of vaccination (two doses) and within 3 months of j&j vaccination. Already, he said, 120,000 citizens have signed up or been vaccinated, and about 300,000 remain. He even stressed that these citizens have the primary right to record.
69% of the general population completed vaccination
18,650,000 doses have been received to date. More than 7,625,000 citizens were vaccinated once (or with one dose), i.e. 72.6% of the total population and 82.6% of the adult population. The corresponding EU average is 73.2% of the general population and 84.2% of the adult population. More than 7,235,000 citizens have been fully vaccinated, representing 69% of the general population and 78.6% of the adult population, with an EU average of 70.3% and 80.4%, respectively.
The recipients of revaccination are 5.8 million citizens, 80% of those who were vaccinated. About 4,325,000 vaccinations have already been completed, 74.6%, and 560,000 (9.6%) citizens have made an appointment for the 3rd booster dose.