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Greek High Court Says Mandatory COVID Vaccinations Can Proceed

ATHENS – The union representing Greek public hospital workers has lost its bid to stop mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for its workers, with those still refusing by Sept. 1 facing unpaid suspension as long as the pandemic lasts.

A section of Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State (CoS), rejected a request for an injuction submitted by the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees (POEDIN) to temporarily freeze mandatory shots, said Kathimerini.

The Greek Parliament controlled by the New Democracy government voted in July to require all healthcare professionals working in hospitals and clinics to get vaccinated or be put on leave.

The union wanted more time to try to convince its members, most of whom are vaccinated, to get the shots but there's a fierce anti-vaxxer resistance movement which doesn't think it's safe or effective or is part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their minds.

POEDIN's argument also was that sanctions against workers violated their constitutional rights of human dignity, the free development of the individual’s personality and the right to work although the Constitution gives the Prime Minister the right to mandate health measures during a pandemic.

A separate request by POEDIN to annul and suspend the law was pending at the top court’s plenary on Aug. 30, two days before the suspension deadline, the report also added.

There were media reports however that the government, which said there wouldn't be any extensions to the Sept. 1 deadline, was going to cave in and issue a two-week delay and allow testing instead for the unvaccinated.

So far, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – who said earlier he couldn't force health care workers to be inoculated and waited months before giving the order – hasn't made shots mandatory for all.

He said he would wait until the autumn and has exempted police – who have a far higher rate of unvaccinated – as well as tourism workers although the Coronavirus has spread on islands where only vaccinated tourists or those free of the virus were allowed to go.

The country's Eleftheria (Freedom) vaccination campaign has stalled at little more than 61 percent of the population of 10.7 million people as health officials said at least 70 percent is the benchmark to slow the pandemic, maybe as high as 80-85 percent.

Losing the fight against the pandemic, the government now reportedly is mulling whether to require all those – apart from medical exemptions – who are unvaccinated to get the shots and has already ordered restrictions for them.

More professional categories in the meantime could be added to the mandatory shot list, said Kathimerini, as well as those over the 50-55 age group professionally active, more likely to be hospitalized if they contract the virus.

The government said it would put hires on a fast-track to fill the gap left by suspending health care and hospital workers just as the pandemic is resurging because of anti-vaxxers and so many people not wearing masks, staying away from each other, wild parties on islands and public gatherings.

The anti-vaxxers aren't giving up the fight to face being infected and spreading the disease as they keep claiming it's their freedom of choice even if they catch COVID-19, are hospitalized or die.

Some 7-8,000 of them took a protest against mandatory shots to Athens' main Syntagma Square outside Parliament where clashes broke out with riot police who fired tear gas and flash grenades and used a water cannon to break up the crowd, the paper said in the report.

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