Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Further Updates and Clarifications of Vaccinations on Mount Athos

Since I am occasionally asked to update information and clarify matters regarding the vaccination of the monks of Mount Athos, with some even denying that it is taking place or overly downplaying it, I decided to make my own personal contacts with people I know on the Holy Mountain and have also sought reports directly coming from Mount Athos to provide the latest information, as of April 13th 2021.

- There was a long delay in sending the vaccines from Athens to Mount Athos, endangering the lives of the older monks and of monks with underlying diseases.

- Vaccinations started about three weeks ago, but only with 120 vaccines available, which were given in five days. No other vaccines had been sent to Mount Athos.

- Another 120 vaccines were expected this week, with another 120 to be vaccinated, both monks and lay people, followed by the second installment of the vaccination of those vaccinated with the first dose a few weeks ago. As of today, all 120 who received the first dose a few weeks ago have received the second dose. The next second dose is scheduled for 140 monks on April 23rd. On April 23rd another 150 monks are scheduled to receive their first dose.

- It is a gross lie that there were side effects in those vaccinated at Mount Athos. No side effects have been reported in anyone vaccinated.

- After the first vaccinations there was a significant increase in those who wished to be vaccinated, both monks and lay people, with the number expected to far exceed 500.

- Some monasteries did not engage in vaccination because almost all their monks have been diagnosed with coronavirus over the past year and they believe they have antibodies.

- At least six monasteries have declared almost all their monks vaccinated.

- No monk on Mount Athos was forced to be vaccinated. All monks are free to do as their conscience tells them. However, there are some elders and abbots who either believe the propaganda against vaccines or consider it an act of faithlessness who are threatening monks under them to not give them a blessing to be vaccinated, which surely brings the number of monks who should be vaccinated considerably down, even if they would want to be vaccinated. Obedience is a big deal on Mount Athos.

- Some monks who have been or will be vaccinated are not among those officially recorded, such as the Russians who prefer to be vaccinated with the vaccine provided by Russia.

- Currently there are no monks in monasteries with the coronavirus, however there are many monks in sketes and huts and cells who are currently sick with the coronavirus, with an official count of 31 as of last week, and four who have been brought to the hospital.

- There are around 2,000 monks and 2,000 lay workers on Mount Athos. The hope is to get as many vaccinated as possible by the end of June, as vaccinations become available to them. The process has been slow.

- The vaccination at Mount Athos is carried out at the Health Center in Karyes (all photos posted are from there) and is not done as in the rest of the mainland, that is based on age but independent of age as on the small islands of Greece. On Mount Athos there is a list created by the health workers of the Karyes Health Center, where the monks of all the monasteries express their interest in the vaccination and from there on their vaccination is planned in stages.

- Everyone on Mount Athos is receiving the Pfizer vaccine, except those monks who prefer the vaccine from their own homeland, such as the Russians.

- It is not known if those who have already recovered from the coronavirus will receive the vaccine by June, due to confidence in the antibodies.
- Mount Athos is currently closed to visitors. Vaccination of the monks is a major factor in its reopening.  

Updates as of 4/20/2021
 - It is estimated around 800 monks have been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and these 800 are excluded from receiving the vaccine.

- Of the 800 infected, 4 have died. The latest to die was Hieromonk Chrysanthos Agiannanites on April 15th, who was 62 years old. He died at Saint Demetrios Hospital in Thessaloniki. He was originally from Mykonos and studied at the Theological School of the University of Athens. 

- As of a few weeks ago there were at least 40 monks infected with the coronavirus in the sketes and cells and hermitages. Currently there are 10 monks in quarantine in secluded cells, and 5 monks in hospitals in Thessaloniki, 1 of whom is intubated.

- Social media accounts bearing the name of Esphigmenou Monastery are spreading false information about the vaccines which the monastery has confirmed does not belong to them and are instead operated by anonymous persons. Their statement is as follows:
"The Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou on Mount Athos publicly denounces the use of its name by third parties without its permission to spread misinformation, false news and propaganda against the ways of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. 
Apart from the official website of the Monastery ( and the links on it to other websites of the Monastery on social networks, neither the Monastery, nor the association of friends of the Monastery maintain other presences on the internet. However, there are websites and profiles on social media (Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc.), which illegally bear the name of our Monastery and daily collect and post any pseudo-scientific article about the pandemic circulating on the internet, spreading panic in the souls. to prevent them from taking any measures to protect their health from the threat. 
These websites are constructed and managed by people unknown to the Monastery, who hide behind anonymity. Unfortunately, anyone, taking advantage of the inaction of the authorities, can build a website on the internet, appear as a supposed friend of a Holy Monastery and spread whatever falsehood he wants.

Thus, under complete impunity, they spread propaganda against vaccination, against any protection measure and diagnostic tests. Even the most irrational exhortations are presented as supposed commands of God (alas!), covered with heretical and pseudo-theological arguments.
And if misinformation about the pandemic in general is detrimental to public health, we understand how much more damaging it is when it combines pseudoscience with pseudo-theology with the creation of remorse for allegedly disobeying the requirements of the Gospel! 
These websites refer to sick fantasy theories that the current vaccinations are supposed to reduce the earth's population in the distant future, while the negative ones have already managed to lose lives, as we count thousands of pandemic deaths in Greece alone and millions in the world, many of whom fell ill because they did not observe protection measures themselves or their relatives, misled by the relevant propaganda. 
The administrators of these websites have on their hands the blood of innocent people! Unfortunately, the authorities so far deal only with individual cases of people who make propaganda against public health, ostensibly ignoring the aforementioned pseudonymous websites, which are one of the most important sources of misinformation in Greece and endanger the health of tens of thousands of our fellow human beings. 
The consequences are paid by our Monastery, as we receive messages with insults and threats to sue, from people whose lives were endangered by the coronavirus. The consequences, of course, are paid for by the whole of Mount Athos, whose reputation is tarnished. We call on the authorities to assume their responsibilities and perform their duty. Inaction is complicity!"