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Politics

Mitsotakis, Greek President Repeat COVID-19 Vaccination Plea

July 25, 2021

ATHENS – Still reluctant to make shots mandatory despite a rise of COVID-19 and the especially contagious Delta Variant from India, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has again urged and pleaded with people to be vaccinated.

That  came after he defended his New Democracy government's decision to make the shots a requirement for health care workers, including in nursing homes, but not for tourism workers, including on islands where the Coronavirus is staging a comebak.

He spoke after his monthly meeting with President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on developments regarding the pandemic, saying he made the move based on the recommendation of his advisory panel of doctors and scientists.

He also cited Article 25 of the Constitution, saying that the state “has the right to demand from all citizens that they fulfill the debt of social and national solidarity,” without explaining why, if that's the case, the shots aren't mandatory for all.

“I believe that this article is more relevant today than ever. This is what we demand from our fellow citizens: The debt of social and national solidarity. Tackling the pandemic is the battle of our generation. We will win it,” he said, reported Kathimerini.

He noted that Greece passed the 10 million mark in vaccinations in a country of 10.7 million people – but only half are fully vaccinated, far short of the 70 percent mark health authorities said is needed to push back the pandemic.

Without acknowledging that, he claimed that the so-called Eleftheria (Freedom) vaccination campaign is “proceeding as planned,” although it's not, failing to meet the benchmark to slow the further spread of the virus.

Then he said that the setback is due to the Delta Variant, not mentioning a hard-core anti-vaxxer resistance movement that has taken to the streets in protest against any idea of being forced to take shots they believe aren't safe or effective or part of a conspiracy to alter their DNA or control their minds.

He said that the government will keep trying “to convince our fellow citizens, who may still be suspicious, that they should be vaccinated. “That is where we will focus all our efforts,” as most rival parties were against mandatory shots.

That includes the major opposition SYRIZA whose leader and former premier, Alexis Tsipras, was among the first to cut in line to be vaccinated ahead of the elderly and said he supports vaccinations unless they are required, enabling him to be both for and against them.

Sakellaropoulou told doubters tht “The only safe solution is vaccination,” noting that virtually all those being hospitalized are unvaccinated,” unconvincing to skeptics, including some who think the pandemic is a hoax and not happening.

As for compulsory vaccination, she said that, “The Constitution does not recognize anyone’s right, in the context of their own freedom, to endanger the life and health of their fellow human beings,” separating herself from Mitsotakis not making them a requirement.

After cases were around the 300 mark daily earlier in the summer, they have spiked again with tourist arrivals and people defying what's left of health measures from a lenient lockdown that was largely ignored.

On July 23, there were 2,854 cases and seven deaths, raising the totals to 471,894 and 12,882 fatalities, and 130 people on ventilators in public hos;ital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in grave danger.

The doubters don't believe anything the government, doctors or scientists say, despite proof the vaccines have worked to greatly reduce cases, deaths, hospitalizations and people in critical care.

Police detained 25 people after a protest rally and march against mandatory vaccinations turned violent late on July 24 as a crowd of some 4,500 gathered in the capital's center at Syntagma Square outside Parliament.

late Saturday.

Police wanted the crowd to move so that circulation could resume, but some among the crowd threw firebombs, stones and other projectiles at police, who responded with tear gas and water, the paper said.

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