Expat fury: Brits abroad feel abandoned by Greek vaccination system – ‘afraid to go out’
Spain: British expats face threat of return to UK warns expert
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Greece’s programme has lagged far behind the UK’s with just 16.75 percent of the country’s population having at least one jab compared with 50 percent in the UK. As well as being part of the EU’s disastrous and bureaucratic rollout, the Greek government’s own policies have been beset with problems.
One of the most notable issues principally affects foreigners living in the country – which includes an estimated 18,000 Brits.
In order to book a jab you need a social security (AMKA) number – the equivalent of a National Insurance number in the UK.
Countless overseas residents have reported that their repeated attempts to book jabs have been fruitless.
The Greek government has attempted to resolve this by passing legislation this month that allows foreigners to obtain temporary AMKA registration.
But expats have reported issues with the system – leaving many in limbo.
Roger Green, a British writer who has lived on the island since the early 90s, says some are afraid to leave their homes.
He said: “The vaccination process has passed us by.
“I know people like me who are in their eighties and are afraid to go out at all.
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“We’re not complainers, we love Greece but for most foreigners here, at least, the system isn’t working.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Lieb, an American who moved to Greece said: “Almost no AMKA numbers granted in the 2021 calendar year actually work on the vaccine website.”
The news emerged as the Greek government has dropped quarantine rules for citizens flying in from the EU and five other countries, including the UK.
“The idea of tourists arriving en masse when we haven’t been vaccinated ourselves is frankly terrifying,” said Mr Green.
“There’s a whole network of people like me across Greece. Whatever the faults of myself and others who are not on the system, we’re in a pandemic and this needs to be properly addressed.”
Expats living in Spain have also reported the same issue.
Non-Spanish staff at half a dozen British, bilingual or international schools in the Madrid region say they have yet to be called in for their jabs even though their Spanish colleagues have already been vaccinated.
“People are becoming increasingly concerned – especially those of us that work with the under-sixes, who aren’t required to wear masks,” one British teacher told the Guardian.
Neither the regional health department nor the regional education department could account for the apparent oversight.
“Obviously we don’t make any distinctions because of nationality,” said a spokesperson for the Madrid education department.
A spokesperson for the British embassy in Madrid said: “The Spanish government has been clear that vaccinations will be offered to all British people living in Spain on public health grounds, regardless of nationality or where they live.”
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