ATHENS – After Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he couldn't force health workers to take COVID-19 vaccinations, his New Democracy government now will reportedly require them to get the shots.
The announcement will come the week of June 11, said the news agency Reuters, the move being made because of a sudden and dramatic surge in cases as many people are shunning what's left of health measures under an eased lockdown.
The government's advisory panel in June recommended compulsory shots for health workers and staff at elderly care facilities only “as a last resort measure” with a specific time frame if efforts to encourage inoculation proved ineffective.
“The government … has got the relevant recommendation by the national bio-ethics committee regarding mandatory vaccinations for specific professional groups,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told a briefing, the report said.
Little more than 38 percent of the country's population has been fully vaccinated with two shots of more versions or the single shot Johnson & Johnson, a level half what's needed to beat back the pandemic, health officials said.
Greece has a staunch group of anti-vaxxers and others who refuse to be inoculated because they don't believe the vaccines are safe or effective or that they are a conspiracy to alter their DNA.
There has been debate about whether mandatory vaccinations are ethical, though a poll released by SKAI TV showed most Greeks were in favor of the move to curb a resurging health crisis that threatens tourism and the economy again.
The government has re-instituted authorities reimposed curbs on restaurants, bars and nightclubs, allowing seated customers only, citing the rising cases and the Delta variant that could soon be the dominant strain in the country.
Mitsotakis' pleading, urging, cajoling and offering financial incentives for the young to be vaccinated has largely fallen on deaf ears and he said he would make shots mandatory – after he said he couldn't – if the public health is jeopardized.