ATHENS – After blasting the COVID-19 vaccines as not safe or effective – despite being a surgeon – SYRIZA lawmaker Pavlos Polakis relented to get his shot, completing them for members of his party who said they shouldn’t be mandatory.
Leftist leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras, among the first in line to be vaccinated, cutting ahead of the elderly and ill, said he believed people should be inoculated but that those who don’t shouldn’t be penalized.
In an interview with private TV station Open, Tsipras said that Pavlos Polakis, a surgeon who served as alternate health minister in his government from 2015 to 2019 and who took to the floor of Parliament to denounce vaccinations, had relented, along with others in the party who had refused.
“He sent me an SMS with a picture of his vaccination. And he stated that ‘I kept my promise. I’m not anti-vaccination. I criticized it in the context of my scientific approach,’” Tsipras said of his colleague.
That came after Parliament President Konstantinos Tassoulas said that five or six lawmakers – he didn’t say why he didn’t know exactly – had been unvaccinated among the 300 in the body.
He didn’t name the public officials, nor their parties and said they would be allowed to keep coming to the Parliament while his New Democracy government is banning the unvaccinated from going into restaurants, bars, taverns, movie theaters, music halls and concerts.
In June, Polakis said his personal Facebook account was temporarily blocked over his opposition to vaccinations that he opposed and said he wouldn’t take before he did.
A heavy smoker, he had even puffed away at the Health Ministry during a World No Smoking Day news conference with European Union officials and got away with it.
Some 10 percent of Parliament workers are also unvaccinated and apparently still going to work, exempt from the regulations the government has imposed on others so far.
Greece has a hard core contingent of anti-vaxxers, some of whom think it’s an international conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their minds and they are spreading the virus with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reluctant to make shots a requirement, except for health care workers now.