Greek healthcare workers protest essential vaccines


Athens, Greece — Workers in a Greek public hospital took a five-hour leave on Thursday to protest the government’s decision to require all public and private health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

About 300 hospital workers have gathered outside the Athens Ministry of Health to protest the measure, which will come into effect on September 1. The government has announced that the extension will not be granted.

People working in the public and private medical sector, and those working in long-term care facilities who have not been vaccinated at least once by that date or who do not have a recent certificate of recovery, will be suspended from work.

Public hospital unions have said they support vaccines but oppose mandating them.

“We do not leave healthcare and social workers who have the personal right to vaccination unprotected,” the union said. “Patients are not at risk of getting coronavirus from health care workers. Hospitals are once again full of patients suffering from coronavirus caught in the community.”

Health Minister Vasilis Kikirias said the bill was being protested by a “minority” who frequently protested various issues related to the country’s health system.

Healthcare professionals will attend a rally in Athens on August 26, 2021. (Thanassis Stavrakis / AP Photo)

“They are in the opposite direction of the majority of Greek societies who want to protect public health,” he said.

Speaking on Skai TV, Kikilias announced the start of a pilot program with a mobile vaccination unit that manages shots in town squares outside the church. The program will begin this Sunday on Crete and expand to major cities in the country, the minister said.

Greece aims to boost immunization momentum with a range of incentives. Over the past few weeks, confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, as well as hospitalizations and intubations have steadily increased. According to Ministry of Health statistics, ICU beds in COVID-19 patients are more than 69% full, while regular COVID-19 wards are 45% full.

On Tuesday, Kikirias said: [percent] Some patients in the COVID ICU have not been vaccinated.

More than 11 million vaccinations have been carried out, and currently about 11 million people, 5.6 million, are fully vaccinated in the country.

The COVID-19 vaccine is available free of charge to anyone over the age of 12 in Greece. Vaccination is not mandatory except in the healthcare sector, but on Tuesday the government announced new testing requirements and restricted access to various locations. Not vaccinated.

Measures implemented from September 13 to March 31 include compulsory weekly or twice-weekly inspections of unvaccinated public and private sector workers, and restaurants, bars, etc. Only indoor access to venues such as cafes and recreational facilities is allowed. For those who have a certificate of vaccination or recent recovery.

Elena Becatros

Associated Press