ATHENS – With health care workers already required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face unpaid suspensions, Greece’s New Democracy government is said to be considering making the shots mandatory for clerics and teachers.
Government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou said that’s because the pandemic is spreading because of the unvaccinated, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis not moving to make shots a requirement for all despite that.
“The option of expanding mandatory vaccination is likely everywhere, not just at schools. It will depend on the pandemic numbers and on how fast the rate of vaccinations rises,” Oikonomou told SKAI TV.
“The possibility of mandatory vaccination is there for everyone. It is there for educators if this is deemed necessary, even though vaccination rates are pretty high in that sector. It is even being examined for the church,” he added, when asked about which professional sectors are likely to be affected.
Schools will reopen Sept. 13 just as there are fears of a fourth wave of the Coronavirus on the back of the especially-contagious Delta Variant from India and because of anti-vaxxers and people not wearing masks nor staying safe distances apart.
Teachers and students and staff don’t have to be vaccinated but those who aren’t will have to take two tests weekly, free for students but others will have to bear the cost at 10 euros ($11.88) in a bid to persuade them to get the shot.
Mitsotakis, who waited months to require shots for health care workers after saying he couldn’t force them to be inoculated, has the Constitutional authority to impose mandatory shots but said he would wait to see if cases keep rising in the autumn, not wanting to slow a battered economy. Oikonomou said vaccinations won’t be compulsory for children, adding that, “There is no such plan at this time,” although parents are urged to get shots for those over 12 years old.
He said that the government is putting together a campaign to persuade more parents to get their children vaccinated and will use pediatricians to make them understand it’s safe and effective. “They need to get in the game of convincing people, with their knowledge, but also by getting vaccinated themselves,” he said of the doctors. He also said that vaccination spots will be set up outside universities for students and staff.