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Greek Hospital Workers Protest Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination

July 26, 2021

ATHENS – Despite seeing many people dying in front of them from COVID-19, many Greek hospital workers – including doctors and nurses – don't want to be vaccinated and are protesting the New Democracy government's making it required.

Those who refuse will be suspended on unpaid leave for as long as the pandemic lasts but not fired under the decision that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made reluctantly after he said he couldn't force them to do so, but then did.

The front-line health car workers said they would take to the streets in a rally on the morning of July 27, almost certain to be a futile gesture as the decision has already been made to spur a stalling vaccination drive.

Dubbed Eleftheria (Freedom) the campaign has seen only a little less than half the country's population of 10.7 million people fully inoculated, far less than the 70 percent needed to slow and beat back the Coronavirus that's surging again because of the even more contagious Delta Variant from India.

The rally in front of the Health Ministry has been planned by the Federation of Greek Hospital Doctors (OENGE) whose officials want to meet with Minister Vassilis Kikilias, a former professional basketball player with no health experience.

The newspaper Kathimerini said OENGE will escalate protests after the mid-summer August break as the workers will be required by the end of the month to make appointments to get shots or face suspension unless the decision is overturned.

The Panhellenic Federation of Hospital Workers (POEDIN) said it supports the move to reverse the order requiring staff at hospitals and care homes be placed on unpaid leave if they refuse to be vaccinated, with reports other public workers could be next if the vaccination drive keeps sputtering this summer.

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