Visiting Greece? Over 30% Never Vaccinated 

Greece lost measles elimination status during September 2019
greek architecture

According to a new survey, over 30 percent of Greeks have not received a single vaccination in their adult life.

This survey was based on a sample of 1,571 people and was presented during a recent conference organized by the Greek Society of General and Family Medicine, reported ekathimerini on December 16, 2019.

An exception revealed by the study was the influenza vaccination coverage in seniors. Over 60 percent of people over the age of 60 said they had been immunized for seasonal flu.

This ekathimerini news article said ‘the absence of a nationwide immunization register prevents health authorities from identifying vulnerable individuals.’

An example of under-vaccinations in Greece is the measles virus.

On August 29, 2019, the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) determined that for the first time since the verification process began in the Region in 2012, 4 countries, including Greece, lost their measles elimination status.

“Re-establishment of measles transmission is concerning. If high immunization coverage is not achieved and sustained in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will tragically die,” said Dr. Günter Pfaff, Chair of the RVC, in this statement.

Hopefully, a new initiative will address this survey’s unfortunate finding.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe met with high-level counterparts in Greece on December 16, 2019, agreeing to a joint review by WHO and the Greek government of reforms to public health and primary health care (PHC).

These reforms seek to strengthen public health, bring care closer to communities and accelerate progress towards universal health coverage, with this review further strengthening those efforts, said this WHO statement.

The public health reform will be initiated with new public health legislation and the development of a National Strategy and Action Plan for Public Health. 

Moreover, comprehensive strategies will be implemented on combating various health issues, including immunizations.

The Greece government highlighted ways in which PHC reforms could be bolstered – notably with a public-private component to attract healthcare staff. 

Reforming PHC is the foundation of transforming health systems across the WHO European Region to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says prior to visiting Greece, make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Greece was included in the CDC’s global Travel Alert published in June 2019 regarding measles outbreaks.

Travel vaccine news published by Vax-Before-Travel.

 

Article by
Dani Reiter