Greek Pm: Vaccine Hesitancy Driving High Death Rate

A woman lights a candle inside the Agios Nikolaos church, in Halandri suburb, northern Athens, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. During the Holy Week churches will be allowed to operate with a severely reduced capacity with attendees, and the ratio of one person per 25 square meters will be applied during services, among other measures. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
A woman lights a candle inside the Agios Nikolaos church, in Halandri suburb, northern Athens, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. During the Holy Week churches will be allowed to operate with a severely reduced capacity with attendees, and the ratio of one person per 25 square meters will be applied during services, among other measures. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s prime minister has issued an appeal for elderly Greeks to get vaccinated, blaming hesitancy for persistently high rates of death and hospitalization.

“The data we have from ICUs and intubated patients are clear: 95% of them, who are fellow citizens of ours, are not fully vaccinated,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Wednesday.

Greece’s vaccination program has remained roughly in line with the European Union average, but deaths are higher and the number of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care unit treatment is at its highest level since the start of the pandemic.

Health experts say Greeks over age 80 and below 70 are failing to make or skipping vaccination appointments in significantly larger numbers than those in the 75 to 79 age bracket.

The government has appealed to the Greek Orthodox Church and retiree associations to help with the vaccination campaign.

Separately Wednesday, a 37-year-old man in northern Greece has been jailed for 60 days for endangering public safety after refusing to wear a face mask and being fined for the violation for a second time.

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