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Greece Offers Medical Excuse Out for COVID-19 Anti-Vaxxers

Εθνικός Κήρυξ

FILE - A nurse prepares an injection with a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, to vaccinate Efstathia Kambissiouli, a Greek nurse working in a state hospital intensive care, in Athens, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, Pool)

ATHENS – While suspensions have begun for staff and health workers at Greek nursing homes who are unvaccinated against COVID-19, the New Democracy government said medical exemptions would be allowed for a number of reasons.

Health care workers who refuse to be vaccinated will be put on unpaid leave, which started Aug. 16 at nursing homes and for others in the health sector, including doctors, nurses and hospital staff, beginning Sept. 1.

They won't be allowed to return to work unless they get vaccinated or until the pandemic ends, as it continues largely because so many people in Greece won't be vaccinated, believing the vaccines aren't safe or effective or are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA or control their minds.

The National Transparency Authority has conducted inspections around the country, said Kathimerini, to insure the vaccination requirement is being met with fines for employers who have unvaccinated staff starting at 10,000 euros ($11,718) and up to 200,000 euros ($234,37) for repeat offenders.

in cases of recurrence.

Workers entitled to be exempt for mandatory jabs for specific medical reasons had to submit an application for exemption, with the relevant documents that will be reviewed by three-member committees being set up around the country.

Exemptions will be allowed for severe allergic reaction after administration of a previous dose of the vaccine as two doses are required for most versions, a diagnosed allergy to vaccine components, signs of thrombocytopenic syndrome after the first dose of AstraZeneca or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines or pericarditis and myocarditis after the first dose with an mRNA vaccine.

Also exempt are those with a history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, or antiphospholipid syndrome or capillary leak syndrome, and a history of premenstrual syndrome. 

Deputy Labor and Social Affairs Minister Domna Michailidou said the percentage of vaccinated workers in private, public and municipal elderly and disability care units as well as in facilities operating under the responsibility of the Church, has increased to about 75 percent from 62 percent when the measure of compulsory vaccinations was announced, the paper said.

The highest percentage is recorded in private units, where more than 90 percent of employees are vaccinated, while in public facilities the corresponding percentage reaches 70 percent, the report added.

Around 10 percent of health workers in Greek public facilities were unvaccinated when the compulsory measures were announced but it wasn't said if that has decreased since then.

About 61 percent of residents in Greece have been fully vaccinated, short of the 70 percent benchmark health officials said is needed to beat back the pandemic and with worries the now dominant Delta Variant strain and anti-vaxxers in other sectors not required to take the shots, including tourism workers, will make it linger, also cutting into economic recovery hopes after lockdowns.