Greece launched a mass vaccination campaign in refugee camps on Thursday, months after the first shots were rolled out to the wider population in early January.
The first vaccinations were offered to people living in refugee camps on the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos.
Those on the remaining island camps and the mainland will be offered the shots next week.
The vaccines, single-dose Johnson & Johnson shots, will be administered by members of the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) and the Health Ministry’s Philos Program.
More than 11,000 refugees live in Greece’s camps
Athens plans to inoculate more than 11,000 people living in refugee camps on the Greek islands against the coronavirus. According to the UNHCR, there are 91,945 people classified as refugees in the country.
Stephan Oberreit, head of Greece’s Doctors Without Borders (MSF) mission, told Al Jazeera: “The vaccination of refugees and asylum seekers residing on the Greek islands against COVID-19 has been long-awaited.
“We have been urging the Greek authorities to include this population in every step of the fight against COVID-19, so the vaccination is a very positive step.
Doctors Without Borders has recently called for the immediate evacuation of refugee camps on Greece’s islands, arguing that the conditions there provide “the perfect storm” for a COVID-19 outbreak.
“The evacuation of the camps on the Greek islands is now more urgent than ever,” the charity said.
“We need to be realistic: It would be impossible to contain an outbreak in such camp settings,” MSF said, adding that it had not yet seen a credible emergency plan in case of an outbreak.
More than five million first shots have been administered across Greece, which has a population of approximately 10.7 million people.
One in five Greeks has received vaccination
Greece ranks 16th in the European Union in the uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations, with 35% of the population having received at least one dose against an EU average of 38.8%, and 20.1% being fully vaccinated, versus an EU average of 18.8%, according to Bloomberg data.
Data from Greece’s National Organization for Public Health (EODY) have shown that Covid-related fatalities are on a downward trajectory.
Greece recorded 1,239 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, which marks 142 fewer instances of the virus than the 1,381 cases recorded on Wednesday.
Additionally, there are 476 patients with Covid-19 on ventilators on Thursday, which is ten fewer than the 486 patients undergoing the invasive treatment in the country yesterday, Wednesday.
Tragically, 39 people suffering from the coronavirus passed away in the country over the past 24-hour period, which represents 16 more than those who died with the virus on Wednesday.
Greece remained on the United Kingdom’s “Amber List” in the newest revisiting of the travel advisory system, despite its improving coronavirus situation and its successful inoculation campaign for all island residents.
A live update from the UK states that Greece will not be included on the much-desired “Green List” of countries from which UK travelers do not have to quarantine upon their return.
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