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Society

Shots Not Mandatory, Only 58% of Greek Cops COVID-Vaccinated

ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has dictated mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers facing unpaid suspension if they don't comply but not police, whose ranks have far fewer who've taken their shots.

While 18.6 percent of health care workers in various sectors haven't been inoculated and will start being put on paid leave on Sept. 1, some 42 percent of Greek police officers haven't been vaccinated, said Kathimerini.

The police are charged with enforcing various health restrictions such as wearing masks and not staying safe social distances, both largely defied or ignored as the New Democracy government has concentrated on vaccinations.

Despite the large numbers of police not being vaccinated, and coming in close contact with the public, there was no explanation why they – like the health care workers – aren't being compelled to take the shots.

In Attica, which includes the capital Athens, 47 percent of police aren't vaccinated, posing a risk to people with whom they are in contact as the Coronavirus is spreading faster on the back of the Delta Variant from India.

In the second-largest city of Thessaloniki, 46 percent of police aren't vaccinated, the paper saying it's even higher in front line units such as  the DIAS motorcycle-riding unit which has younger officers.

Many of Greece's young – buoyed by tennis star and anti-vaxxer Stefanos Tsitsipas who said it's an old person's disease – are skeptical of vaccines or don't believe the virus can affect them.

Police officials were said to be hoping that more will choose to be vaccinated as they return to work after summer vacations and as the government has pushed vaccinations down into the 12-15 year olds and offering 150 euros ($176.25) in digital wallet benefits to the young who get their shots.

Greece’s National Health System (ESY) said that as of Aug. 19  the number of unvaccinated hospital staff stood at 19,416, while the number of unvaccinated primary care workers was at 2,248.

The health workers union POEDIN said if members start being suspended that it will leave even more shortages in hospitals and the system just as more people are becoming ill with COVID-19, being hospitalized or in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in critical care.

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