The ministries of health and of education have launched a push to persuade the parents of school students to vaccinate their children.

Health Minister Niki Kerameus in an interview with Open television revealed that just 17 percent of students between the ages of 12-15 and 30 percent of senior high school (lykeio) students have been vaccinated with at least one jab but that the rate is gradually rising.

Frequent self-tests for students

While encouraging the vaccination of students, Kerameus stressed that the frequent testing that has been introduced in schools is especially important in preventing transmission of the virus, as the health ministry does not have the capacity to pare down the number of students in classrooms nationwide.

Unvaccinated students will have to take two COVID-19 self-tests weekly and report the results on a special platform or with a signed legal declaration.

“Schools are returning

to normalcy! We now have the vaccine. Teachers responded en masse [to the call for vaccination],” Kerameus declared.
In a spate of interviews and statements, the minister has described the vaccine as “a huge gift of science” that should be utilised.

The president of the National Committee on Vaccination, Maria Theodoridou, a University of Athens professor emerita of paediatrics with a specialisation in infectious diseases, has said that about 20 percent of newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases involve children.

Classes to shut down only if over 50 percent of students test positive

The ministry’s stated policy of shutting down classes only if 50 percent of students test positive has stirred concerns among parents, who fear that it greatly increases the possibility of their children becoming infected.

Kerameus defended the decision, which was reportedly approved by the National Committee on COVID-19.

The initial planning provides that if a student tests positive he or she will be removed from school and required to be quarantined at home for a 10-day period and at least three days after any fever has receded before returning to the classroom.

Ministry urges parents to consult their paediatricians

The government on 7 September announced plans to marshal paediatricians in the campaign to vaccinate school children, which will be a huge operation, following a meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and representatives of paediatrics associations.

Mitsotakis started the meeting by stating, “As we are one week before the opening of schools, I believe that now is the right time to launch a major new effort to substantially increase the vaccination rate among minors. Schools will open and they will open safely. [Athens University Medical School] Professor Tsiodras told us that the best thing we can do is to combine wearing masks and frequent testing. These are the best measures that we can implement in order to ensure that schools will open with the greatest possible degree of safety. This must be augmented by a rise in the rate of vaccination.”

According to the plan, the logistics of which are still being worked out, paediatricians will be able to vaccinate youngsters over age 12 and will have an opportunity to explain to parents in detail the benefits of vaccination.

The president of the National Committee on Vaccination, Maria Theodoridou, a University of Athens professor emerita of paediactrics with a specialisation in infectious diseases, has said that about 20 percent of newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases involve children.

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