The National Vaccination Campaign for COVID-19 has begun. The vaccination is free of charge for all and the vaccine will become gradually available to all, in priority groups.
For information on how to access the vaccination, click here.
PROTECT YOURSELF, PROTECT OTHERS, GET VACCINATED!
How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
The function of vaccines is based on the appropriate preparation of the individual’s immune system (the body’s natural defense) to recognize a specific disease and to become protected against it.
Building immunity: Most research on COVID-19 vaccines involves provoking a response against a protein (either whole or in part) that is found only in the virus that causes COVID-19. When a person is vaccinated, an immune response is generated. Most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses to build immunity.
If the person becomes infected with the virus after being vaccinated, the immune system is able to recognize the virus and is already prepared to attack it.
More information on how the vaccine works is available here (in Greek only) https://emvolio.gov.gr/plirofories .
What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?
Vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases. COVID-19 vaccines protect us against the disease by developing an immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; this immunity helps you fight the virus if you are exposed. It also means that you protect people around you. If you are vaccinated, your risk of infecting other people around you is dramatically reduced. This is particularly important for people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as healthcare providers, elderly adults, and people with underlying medical conditions.
After vaccination, immunity against COVID-19 will last at least 6-8 months based on what we currently know. There is still a small possibility to get COVID-19 even when vaccinated; no vaccine is 100% protective. So, it is important to continue taking all public health measures, such as physical distancing, masks, and frequent handwashing. When a big part of the population is vaccinated (approximately 70-85%), immunity against COVID-19 will develop within the community.
Who should/should not be vaccinated?
The objective of the Greek National Campaign for COVID-19 vaccination is currently to vaccinate everyone above 18 years old. Medical professionals can best advise individuals on whether or not they should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The individuals with a history of thrombosis or severe allergies should speak to a physician first.
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant. There is no need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.
Based on available evidence, people with severe allergic reactions to any ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccine, should generally be excluded from COVID-19 vaccination to avoid possible adverse effects. In case you have any allergies to medication, report it to the medical staff before you are vaccinated. If you are currently sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you can get vaccinated once your primary symptoms have disappeared.
Should I be vaccinated if I have had COVID-19?
Even if you have already had COVID-19, you should be vaccinated when it is offered to you. The protection that someone gains from having COVID-19 will vary from person to person, and it is not clear how long immunity from natural infection might last.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and will help protect you against developing severe COVID-19 disease, including hospitalization and death. There are strict protections in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines. The safety requirements for COVID-19 vaccines are the same as for any other vaccine in the European Union. The safety and effectiveness procedures were not bypassed with the rapid roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccines. Before being approved by international, European Union (EU) as well as national medical authorities, every type of vaccine that is provided to you will have gone through very stringent clinical research to be sure that it is safe and effective and suitable to vaccinate everyone.
So far, more than three million people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine in Greece and a billion have received the first dose world-wide, and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or clotting problems, have been very rare. We all have risk of covid infection, that exceeds the risk of these very rare events. As with all vaccines, the use of COVID-19 vaccines continues to be controlled closely so that it remains safe for all who receive them.
Do Covid-19 vaccines cause side effects?
Like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines may cause side effects, most of which are mild or moderate and go away within a few days. Some people experience no side effects. Others have reported common side effects like: swelling, redness and pain around the injection, fever, headache, tiredness, muscle pain, chills, and nausea. You will be asked to wait 15-30 minutes after being vaccinated by medical staff to check your reaction.
Experiencing side effects after getting vaccinated means the vaccine is building protection in your body (immunity) and is working. If the symptoms worsen or there is concern, it is advised to consult a physician or medical staff for an evaluation. Vaccine effects are continually checked by expert authorities worldwide to identify any recurring or new side effects. It is important to note the very low risk of side-effects against the benefit of protection against covid-19 virus.
Long-term side effects
Side effects usually happen within the first few days of getting a Covid-19 vaccine. Serious side effects that cause long-term health problems are very unlikely. Every vaccine, including every COVID-19 vaccine is clinically tested for side effects during an extended period before the vaccine is further tested and approved for wider distribution.
Which vaccine should I take?
You should take the vaccine you are offered. Every vaccine distributed has met the safety and effectiveness standards.
Can we stop taking precautions after being vaccinated?
Full protection from COVID-19 from the vaccine is provided around 21 days after the second dose (for most vaccines) or single dose (Johnson & Johnson vaccine only). Before this period, it Is still possible to catch the virus, so it is important to adhere to social distancing measures in between vaccines and after you have been vaccinated.
Even after the 21 days, the COVID-19 vaccine should protect you from becoming sick, but it won’t necessarily stop you from infecting other people. It may take some time before everyone is vaccinated, so, it is important that you continue to followCovid-19 prevention measures (masks, hygiene, social distancing). During the winter when people tend to spend more time indoors, it is a good idea to have a flow of air, for example by opening windows frequently.
How can I access the vaccine?
- For persons not living in official State sites (living in urban areas, self-accommodated)
The national vaccination plan is to vaccinate everyone above 18 years of age. The vaccines are free for all. Vaccinations are organized according to age groups, professions such as front-line workers in the healthcare system, or those with specific underlying health issues. New groups eligible for vaccination are announced progressively: it is estimated that the platform for vaccination will open for all age groups during June. Vaccination is optional but it is considered essential for the protection of individual and public health.
The National Operational Vaccination Plan against COVID-19 is available here (in Greek only) https://emvolio.gov.gr/diadikasia-emvoliasmou .
You can only book an appointment for vaccination once your age group has been announced as eligible for vaccination. During the current period, the following groups are eligible for vaccination:
- Front line workers in the healthcare and educational system
- People above 30 years of age
- People with high risk medical conditions such as transplantation, renal failure, cancer under treatment (undergoing cancer treatment since 1/1/2019) or hematological cancer (people diagnosed with hematological cancer since 1/1/2016), severe chronic respiratory diseases, serious heart or liver conditions, immunosuppression (autoinflammatory / autoimmune diseases or other diseases under immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory therapy), other diseases (such as down syndrome or after special application of the competent doctor).
- People receiving immunosuppressive / immunomodulatory treatment of moderate to high risk and people with high-risk medical conditions such as chronic heart conditions, diabetes, obesity, chronic respiratory conditions, cancer (for cases not included above), immunosuppression (HIV), chronic kidney or liver conditions, hemoglobinopathies and other chronic blood conditions, spleen disorders, chronic neurological diseases, severe mental disorder, severe disabilities, as well as parents or caregivers of children under 16 years of age with severe chronic diseases.
If you believe that you fall under category (c) or (d), you can find more detailed information here (in Greek only) https://emvolio.gov.gr or consult a doctor, pharmacist or social worker for advice.
How to check if you belong to the groups that are already open for vaccination:
- By entering your AMKA (Social Security Number) and your AFM (Tax Identification Number) or Surname in this link.
- You can also contact the nearest KEP or pharmacies to check if you are eligible for vaccination.
- You can check via SMS if you belong to the population group that can be vaccinated currently, by sending a text message (SMS) with AMKA (space) Surname at 13034.
How to schedule an appointment:
The primary way to get vaccinated in Greece is by scheduling an appointment at a Citizens’ Service Centre (KEP) or a pharmacy, or through the government vaccination platform here https://emvolio.gov.gr/. You will not need to pay as the Covid-19 vaccine is free for all in Greece.
- If you have an AMKA or a PAAYPA, and you have confirmed that you belong to the groups that have access to vaccination, you can book an appointment in a pharmacy or KEP. You only need to bring your AMKA or PAAYPA number.
- If you have AMKA or PAAYPA, a Tax Identification Number (AFM), as well as TAXISnet username and password, you can schedule your appointment for vaccination using the platform https://emvolio.gov.gr/.
- If you don’t have an AMKA or PAAYPA you will be able to get a temporary AMKA number (PAMKA) to get vaccinated. More information will be provided by the government soon explaining how to get your PAMKA. If you need help, you can send a message to the Refugee Info Facebook page.
Detailed instructions for booking an appointment can be found here: https://emvolio.gov.gr/sites/default/files/attachments/emvolio_platform_presentation_vfinal.pdf?rel=homepage
On the day of the scheduled appointment, you should arrange for your timely arrival at the Vaccination Center (at least 15 minutes before the appointment time), in order to facilitate the smooth flow of the vaccination process and to avoid any delays. More information about the day of the scheduled appointment is available here: https://emvolio.gov.gr/instructions .
2. For persons living in official State sites (such as Reception and Identification Centers (RIC) on the islands and Evros, open reception facilities/sites on the mainland)
The national vaccination plan is to vaccinate everyone above 18 years of age. The Government has announced that there will be a specific vaccination plan for persons residing in Reception and Identification Centers (RICs) on the islands and Evros as well as in Open Reception Facilities/sites in the mainland.
You will be informed by EODY or the site management on when you can get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Where I can I get more information/assistance?
Information on COVID-19 and vaccinations is available through various sources, most of which are listed below:
- National Public Health Organization https://eody.gov.gr/en/covid-19/ | Available in Greek and English
- National Campaign for Vaccination https://emvolio.gov.gr/
- UNHCR Help website: https://help.unhcr.org/greece/
- Refugee.Info: https://www.refugee.info/greece| Available in English, French, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu
- National Public Health Organization (EODY): +30 2105212000, or 1135 | Available in Greek and English 24/7.
- Refugee.Info Facebook Messenger https://www.refugee.info/greece | Available in English, French, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu
- Hellenic Red Cross (HRC) – Multifunctional Center (MFC): +302105140440 (landine) or +306934724893 (Whats App/ Viber), Mon.-Fri. 9am – 8pm| Available in Greek, English, Arabic, Farsi/Dari, Pashto, Russian, French, Swahilli, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Turkish, Urdu, Mandingo, Malinke, Susu, Fula and Kissi.
- Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) Helpline: see here for the schedule https://www.gcr.gr/media/k2/attachments/GCR_HELPLINE_ENGLISH.pdf
- Open Accommodation Sites and RICs: NPHO (EODY) field staff.
- You can always ask your doctor, or any specialized doctor available near your place of residence.
How to address misinformation and rumours?
There are a lot of rumors and myths around vaccines and COVID-19. Before considering vaccine information on the Internet, check that the information comes from a trustworthy source and is updated on a regular basis. To help you find them, The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reviewed and certified many websites across the world that only provide information based on reliable scientific evidence and independent reviews by leading technical experts. These websites are all members of the Vaccine Safety Net.
 WHO Benefits of getting vaccinated, https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines
 WHO. Should I be vaccinated if I get COVID-19 https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines
 You can always ask your doctor, or any specialized doctor available near your place of residence.
Last update: 28/05/2021