Mt. Athos, April 1, 2021
Athonite monks have not shown very much interest so far in receiving the COVID vaccine, says Athanasios Martinos, the Civil Governor of the Holy Mountain.
There were reports last week that the Athonite monks were very afraid of the virus and that about 500 of them were already vaccinated within a few days after the vaccine arrived on the Holy Mountain. Reports claimed that it was expected that the number of vaccinations would far exceed 1,000.
However, other reports said that of the 2,000 monks on the Holy Mountain, only about 15% had expressed any interest in being vaccinated.
Governor Martinos notes that while there is little interest in the vaccine, in many cases, immunity has been achieved by monks who were already ill, while many monasteries also adhere to strict sanitary measures.
Kyriakos Velopoulos, a member of Greek Parliament and President of the Hellenic Solution party, has said that the monks are being pressured, or “blackmailed,” as he puts it, to be vaccinated.
There are presently between 30 and 35 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection on the Holy Mountain, with four monks being treated in a hospital in Thessaloniki, according to Governor Martinos. The new cases were not found in the main monasteries, but in cells of New Skete and the St. Anne’s Skete.
It was recently announced that the Holy Mountain would remain closed to pilgrims at least until April 15.