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Greek Rescue Workers Must Be Vaccinated, But Not Health Workers

ATHENS – While still not requiring health care workers in the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic to be vaccinated against it, Greece's New Democracy government has made it mandatory for rescue workers.

All of Greece’s Special Disaster Unit (EMAK) must comply with the directive, the Fire Department said, a senior official not named telling Kathimerini that the team members take part in European Union drills and could be activated to travel within the bloc and elsewhere in the world.

Those who refuse will be taken out of the team and transferred to other duties, the order the first mandatory issuing for a specific sector in the state although Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he may move to require all public employees to get the shot if so many refuse it cuts in the effort to slow the pandemic.

He has touted the success of the vaccination campaign called Eleftheria (Freedom) but, hindered by a cumbersome European Union distribution program that failed to deliver enough doses, only about 13 percent of Greece's population has been fully vaccinated.

The vaccines in use, apart from the single-shot version from the US' Johnson & Johnson, require two shots weeks or months apart to be effective and despite opening 1,500 centers where people can be inoculated many are refusing.

The government was said to be considering offering health care workers a bonus to get shots without any explanation why, as public workers, they can't be ordered to comply especially given their sensitive positions fighting the Coronavirus.

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