ATHENS — Greece’s health authorities on Tuesday approved giving an additional fourth jab of coronavirus vaccine to people with compromised immune systems.
The National Vaccination Committee decided that this group should be able to get the fourth dose between three and six months after the third, with administration expected to begin soon.
The decision concerns patients with hematological and oncological illnesses who are receiving treatment, people receiving immunosuppressive drugs, transplant recipients and patients with rheumatic diseases or renal failure.
Marios Themistocleous, general secretary at the Ministry of Health, told local TV that there had been no discussion so far on expanding the fourth dose to the rest of the population, adding that he hoped this wouldn’t be needed.
“The administration of the fourth dose is something for the future based on the change of epidemiological and clinical data,” vaccination committee head Maria Theodoridou has said, adding that for the moment, giving people their third shot takes priority.
Greece has already made vaccination mandatory for everyone older than 60. Those who fail to book an appointment by January 16 will face a monthly fine of €100. The government is considering expanding mandatory vaccination to people aged 50 and up.
In late December, Israel became the first country to offer a fourth dose to older people and health care workers. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said a fourth dose boosts antibodies five-fold a week after it’s administered, citing preliminary findings of an Israeli study.
Last month, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that booster-dose programs “are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it” because they would divert supply to places with already high vaccination coverage and allow the virus to continue to mutate elsewhere.