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Greek Health Care Workers Refuse COVID Shots, Face Suspensions

ATHENS – Despite a warning they will start being put on unpaid leave as of Sept. 1 unless they start being vaccinated against COVID-19 in a bid to slow the spread of the pandemic, Greece's health care workers said they won't comply.

While a huge majority of them have already been inoculated, a small hard core resistance group of around 10 percent have shunned the shots as Greece has an element of anti-vaxxers who think the vaccines aren't safe or effective or a conspiracy to alter their DNA, although they haven't said for what purpose.

The Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees (POEDIN) sent a legal notice to the ministries of Health, Interior, Labor and Finance informing of them of its decision that health workers will abstain from compulsory vaccinations, said Kathimerini.

That was sent 10 days before the deadline for employees at care homes for the elderly and the disabled to be vaccinated, and 25 days before for employees at public hospitals, whose administrations have already been asked to compile lists of vaccinated and unvaccinated personnel.

POEDIN said ordering staff to present a certificate of vaccination or illness, as defined by the institutional framework, “violates the individual right to data protection and especially sensitive health data of employees.”

It added that it violates the constitutional rights of those who choose not to get vaccinated although some legal authorities have said the Constitution clearly gives the the right to the country's leader to order vaccinations during a pandemic or sweeping health crisis.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who for months wouldn't order the mandatory shots for the health care workers, then did so because the Delta Variant and anti-vaccination movement has led to the pandemic bouncing back.

That has also threatened tourism but he still hasn't moved to make shots mandatory for tourism workers, including on islands where the virus has spread and where tourists and visitors going there had to show proof of being vacccinated or not infected.

The New Democracy government said the suspensions without pay will last as long as the pandemic does and the workers put on leave will be replaced with staffing on temporary contracts.

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