The first 9,750 doses of the Pfizer-BioΝTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Greece on Christmas day and authorities promptly began administering doses to health personnel, elderly nursing home residents and the country’s leadership.
Greece’s president, prime minister and a total of 42 government, military and police officials are receiving vaccinations during the first days.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis received the vaccine on Sunday and shared a video of the procedure across his social media channels.
“Today is an important day for science,” Mitsotakis said. “It is an important day for the European Union, which managed to distribute the vaccine to all European countries on the same day, putting the message of ‘European solidarity’ into action.”
The vaccine shipment arrived over Greece’s northern border with Bulgaria on Friday evening in a van escorted by six police cars. Authorities stored the doses which will later be distributed to 450 vaccination centers throughout Greece and gradually begin operation.
Greece expects to receive 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first phase, which means that 150,000 people will be vaccinated initially (this vaccine requires two doses per patient).
Adding to the list of Greek government recipients, Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Stelios Petsas posted a video of himself receiving the vaccine on Twitter.
“Vaccination is not just an act of self-protection against COVID-19,” Petsas wrote. “It is also an act of solidarity and humanity, because with our vaccination we will build, all together, the wall of immunity that is necessary to defeat this invisible enemy.”
Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias described the COVID-19 vaccination campaign as the largest of its kind since World War II.
“The vaccine is freedom. It is not just a matter of public health, it is a matter of life and attitude,” Kikilias tweeted on Monday. “We move forward with solidarity so that we can slowly return to a normalcy, to take our lives back.”
Greek health authorities announced 342 new coronavirus cases and 53 deaths on Sunday, bringing the country’s respective totals to 135,456 and 4,606.
469 patients remain intubated while 857 have exited the ICU.
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