Greece still lags behind the rest of Europe, with 62 percent of the total population fully vaccinated, versus a continental average of 66 percent. Thessaloniki, Greece – When a mobile COVID vaccination unit arrived at his Greek village, Yiorgos Toumanidis showed up for his booster shot. “I know what it’s like,” said the 71-year-old, who has had the virus. “I spent a month at home with antibiotics … That’s when we understood what’s going on, how dangerous the situation is. I didn’t hesitate. With the first opportunity, I did the vaccine.” But not everyone in Mandalos, home to just 1,200 people, was as quick off the mark. Maria Kourouktsidou waited for the busy summer season at the local fruit cannery, where she works, to pass. “I was worried, of course,” the 54-year-old said. “Many people got sick at work … not everyone wore masks. Management told people to, but then they’d take them off.” Mandalos is the beneficiary of an outreach vaccination initiative gathering momentum since late summer. In Greece’s north, where infections run especially high, mobile units have performed dozens of sorties and delivered more than 4,500 jabs to people in far-flung communities. They are especially targeting people above 65 years of age. Government figures show that although this age group suffers 12.2 percent of all COVID-19 cases, it accounts for half of the hospitalisations and 83.2 percent of deaths. Those rates have surged since early October. Infections have tripled to roughly 6,000 a day, and deaths to about 90 a day. A doctor and a nurse compare records of who was vaccinated [John Psaropoulos /Al Jazeera] Amid a surge in inductions and intubations in the north, the government last month began ordering private sector pulmonologists, pathologists, general practitioners and nurses to work in public hospitals for a month to cover staffing shortfalls. But the government’s real focus is not to increase capacity in intensive care units, where statistically 16 percent of patients survive COVID-19. Rather, it has been to increase vaccination, because 80 percent of intubated patients are unvaccinated. Dimitris Tsalikakis is coordinating these vaccination efforts in an area stretching from Thessaloniki to the Turkish border. He has been co-opting mayors, priests and football teams to help bring crowds to vaccination events. “Some people put it off for the summer because they had work in the fields. Others didn’t understand how serious this disease is. Others were confused by the different viewpoints they heard,” Tsalikakis tells Al Jazeera. “The point is, people need to understand this is serious. We see what’s going on in hospitals. We’re asking the elderly to get vaccinated because it’s key to how they weather the illness.” Greece still lags behind the rest of Europe, with 62 percent of the total population fully vaccinated, versus a continental average of 66 percent. One reason is lack of information. “People who don’t want to do it are afraid, or thin . . . read the full article here.