Greece has experienced more deaths by population from flu than any other European country this year, according to data collected by the European Center for Disease Prevention (ECDC) and published in Greece by the Athens Medical Association (ISA).
The rate of flu deaths in Greece is considerably higher than in other European countries. The data shows that 106 people had died by Saturday in Greece for approximately 11 million of population. 155 people had died in Spain after contracting flu, however the Iberian country’s population is more than four times larger, at some 46 million. There were only four deaths in Sweden, which has a comparable population to Greece. Britain reported no deaths from the virus.
A poor vaccination rate has been blamed for the increase in the number of flu-related deaths, compared to last year. In December, Doctors of the World said Greece was very close to “tearing down the vaccination barrier”. Thousands of Greek children have been left unvaccinated, according to the NGO, because their families have lost their health insurance.
“Uninsured children who are unvaccinated are in imminent danger. Apart from the threat to their own health, they face exclusion from school, because there are directives saying unvaccinated children cannot attend,” Nikitas Kanakis from the humanitarian group stated.
ISA president Giorgos Patoulis called for Greece to develop a national vaccination plan for the next flu season. The opposition party SYRIZA said that the Greek government’s cuts to primary healthcare had contributed to the virus’ bigger impact this year.
The eurozone debt crisis has forced some governments to drastically cut their public health budgets in an effort to contain deficits.
Greece was among the countries taking the toughest measures, but Spain and other countries such as France and the Czech Republic have also taken similar steps.
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