Amid controversy over claims world No21’s mother didn’t allow his brother to receive immunisation as a child
Greek government pushes back on Stefanos Tsitsipas’s vaccine comments
Greece’s health minister has dismissed “patently ridiculous” comments by Stefanos Tsitsipas that his mother was preventing his brother from receiving a hepatitis B vaccine, saying it showed a lack of knowledge of public health, medicine and the law.
Tsitsipas, the 20-year-old world No21, was named national player of the year after booking his place in the Wimbledon qualifying tournament with victory over Albano Olivetti on Monday.
In an interview with the Greek sports newspaper Angress a day later, Tsitsipas claimed his mother prevented him from receiving a Hepatitis B vaccination, a claim that prompted the global public health organisation WHO to publish a statement saying his statements were “potentially misleading”.
WHO said it consulted with Tsitsipas to understand his views on the matter, and that the hepatitis B vaccine is considered safe, inexpensive and the most effective means of protecting against the disease. The vaccine is given in a pill or by injection.
Tsitsipas said: “Everything seems OK, except that when I go into the supermarket, she won’t take the drug for him. I won’t take it for her, because my mum is not allowed to take it. She said: ‘No, you have to pay for it.’”
He went on to say that his mother had convinced him that the vaccine, used to prevent the liver disease, was hazardous.
After a report from the Angress newspaper, health minister Yiannis Koutsomitis told Greek television that there was no medical basis for the claims, adding that he would speak to Tsitsipas to inform him of what he did wrong.
The health minister also announced the creation of a scheme to provide free Hepatitis B vaccination to Greek children of working-class households to prevent them from becoming infected by opportunistic diseases and become targets of street crime.
In the interview with Angress, Tsitsipas denied the allegations.
“I never said that my mum is against me and my brother. It’s not true,” he said. “As for making an accusation of murder, I want to put an end to this kind of silliness.”
Tsitsipas, who is set to play in the main Wimbledon draw this week, said he was not seeking publicity in the report but wanted to make sure people who are over 65 get free hepatitis B vaccinations.
“It was important to explain the truth, the clarity, and to soothe the fears of youngsters, teenagers and men.”
Tsitsipas and his brother played together in the Greek Junior Davis Cup team, but he said he did not ask to take his brother for a vaccination.
“We played in the same sport but I did not take him for a vaccination because he was already vaccinated.”
In 2006, Alexander Tsitsipas was stabbed to death in Greece, the fourth of five siblings to die violently.