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World Greece begins administering COVID vaccines outside churches

15:10  06 september  2021
15:10  06 september  2021 Source:   msn.com

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ARCHANES, Greece (AP) — Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches in a pilot program recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots.

Michalis Vardakis, 73,  receives a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out, in the town of Archanes, on the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete.  (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas) © Provided by Associated Press Michalis Vardakis, 73, receives a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out, in the town of Archanes, on the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in Archanes, a town near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete.

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The single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine was being used, with shots being administered from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Fifty-two appointments were booked for the first day, but some people were turning up without appointments and were being given the vaccines.

The government announced the program last month, with mobile health care units to administer shots in town squares outside churches, initially in Crete and later expanding to the country’s main cities.

Authorities have been seeking to boost Greece’s vaccination drive with a series of incentives, and have sought the support of the country's powerful Orthodox Church. Vaccination against COVID-19 has been made compulsory for health care workers in the private and public sector, while certain entertainment venues such as indoor restaurants and bars will be accessible only to those who have a certificate of vaccination or recent recovery from the disease.

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A young man receives a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination in the town of Archanes, on the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete.  (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas) © Provided by Associated Press A young man receives a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination in the town of Archanes, on the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

“There is no solution to this great danger ravaging humanity other than the vaccines," said Father Andreas Kaliontzakis, priest of the Church of Virgin Mary outside which Monday's vaccination drive was taking place.

"It is a one-way-street and as a church we thought that we have to stand with the people,” he said.

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Nikos Tzanakis, a professor of pulmonology, was also outside the church for the vaccine drive, which he described as "an act of high symbolism to point out that our church, this great social and spiritual entity of our country, sides with the national efforts for vaccination.”

The church giving its backing was motivation for some to get vaccinated.

Local resident Michalis Vardakis, 73, said he got his shot "because Father Andreas mediated and he is well respected in Archanes, and for the sake of my grandchildren, because I cannot stand to be afraid to hug my grandchildren.”

Two women sit inside the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out,  in the town of Archanes, on the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete.  (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas) © Provided by Associated Press Two women sit inside the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out, in the town of Archanes, on the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

Vaccines against the coronavirus are freely available in Greece to anyone with a social security number over the age of 12. More than 5.7 million people have been fully vaccinated so far in this country of around 11 million people. According to official health department figures, 90% of the 381 COVID-19 patients intubated in intensive care are unvaccinated.

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A member of the medical staff prepares a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out, in the town of Archanes, on the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sep. 6, 2021. Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete.  (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas) © Provided by Associated Press A member of the medical staff prepares a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out, in the town of Archanes, on the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sep. 6, 2021. Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

The country has a total of nearly 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 13,800 deaths.

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Elena Becatoros in Athens contributed to this report.

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A woman sits outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out, in the town of Archanes, at the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. : Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas) © Provided by Associated Press A woman sits outside the church of the Virgin Mary, during a vaccination roll out, in the town of Archanes, at the island of Crete, Greece, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. : Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches. It's a pilot program that was recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots. Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in the town of Archanes near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

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usr: 1
This is interesting!