Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis insisted he had a moral duty to push for higher vaccination rates amongst the population, particularly for those over 60 given the continuing load of Covid-19 cases in the country.
“I have a moral obligation to use all the tools at our disposal to convince all citizens over 60 years old of the need to get vaccinated,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday in a meeting with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, at the Maximos Mansion in Athens.
Presenting the government’s policy, he stressed that the aim was to boost vaccination rates before Christmas and that Greece will also examine the possibility of reducing the interval until the third booster shot of vaccines to four months from the current six.
He said the government was “encouraging the Vaccinations Committee to examine this”.
The meeting focused on the progress of the pandemic in Greece, Europe and the rest of the world, vaccinations, health policies and the activities of the new WHO office in Athens.
Mitsotakis praised the leadership of the health ministry, while describing Health Minister Thanos Plevris as a “dedicated reformist”, in whom he had the highest confidence to both manage the pandemic and “also use it as a reason to carry out significant changes to the national health system, focusing on the quality of care over the full range of services.”
Kluge noted that Greece’s vaccination programme was “well organised and correctly structured”, with Greece occupying one of the foremost positions for booster shots of the Covid vaccine, which he said was “one of five main stabilisers, not just for the protection of public health and to prevent the collapse of hospitals but also to protect the economy.”
He welcomed the tenfold increase in daily vaccination appointments since vaccination was made obligatory for people aged over 60 in Greece:
“If I correctly understood what the minister, Mr. Plevris, said, they increased from 2,000 to 20,000 [per day]. Therefore, the measures brought results,” he said and highlighted the importance of increasing vaccination by using all legal and socially acceptable means.
Kluge said that Greece was a pioneer for the WHO in that it had involved not just the public health system but also the private sector in the management of the pandemic, adding: “The pandemic has shown that the cooperation of the private and public sector is very important.”
He presented the prime minister with a copy of the report by the Monti Commission, or the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development, which was set up to rethink policy priorities in light of pandemics so as to avert similar catastrophic events in the future.
Also present at the meeting between Mitsotakis and Kluge were Health Minister Thanos Plevris, Alternate Health Minister Mina Gaga, Deputy Health Minister for Mental Health Issues Zoi Rapti, the head of the WHO office in Athens for Quality of Care and Patient Safety Joao Breda and the WHO special policy advisor in Russia Pavlos Theodorakis.