The Greek government is giving health workers another chance to get their shots after protests erupted over the September 1st suspensions of unvaccinated medical professionals.
Hundreds of suspended workers protested the Greek state after 6,000 healthcare professionals were suspended following a law put in place by prime Minister Mitsotakis. The law was announced in July, and mandates all medical workers be fully vaccinated by September 1st, or else face suspension. Although the PM gave unvaccinated workers a two month period to get their shots, some resisted to be inoculated against COVID-19.
The unvaccinated workers submitted an application to block yesterday’s suspension, but were firmly rejected by the Suspension Commission of the Council of the State, Greece’s top administrative court.
The proceeding suspensions sparked furor from health workers, who took to the streets in droves to express their anger with the law. The Greek government has responded by giving these workers another chance to get their vaccinations and return to work, and although they are willing to work the angered protestors, they will not allow unvaccinated individuals to return to healthcare settings.
The Greek government thus introduced an amendment to the law that they get back to work as long as they receive their first dose of the vaccine in the next few days, and follow through on their second shot afterwards.
“Mandatory vaccination for the workers of the NHS (National Health System) was legislated to help safeguarding public health,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris commented on Thursday. “Since we do not intend to punish (people), we will introduce an amendment.”
Worrying Covid-19 ICU occupancy rate in Greece
The occupancy rate in intensive care units nationally is nearly 60%, University of Patras Medical School professor and pathologist Charalambos Gogos said early last week.
On Crete the occupancy rate is 96.5 percent, he told journalists at a live briefing on the pandemic, adding that the vast majority of the hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.
“Until we reach the necessary immunity rate, which may reach over 80-85%, we need to follow individual protection measures thoroughly,” said Gogos, who also sits at the Health Ministry’s committee on the pandemic.
The fourth wave is expanding globally due to the Delta variant, which has dominated all other strains to a rate of 85% in all new cases.
Greek health authorities also announced a large spike in coronavirus cases last week with 4,608 new infections diagnosed across the country, representing a new record number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
This represents an increase of 0.9% from the prior week’s total.
COVID in Greece is worsening along with the rest of Europe. So far, the continent has suffered approximately 1.3 million COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic; worldwide there have been a total of 4.5 million deaths out of a total of 216 million cases.
The current transmission rates across Europe are “deeply worrying, particularly in the light of low vaccination uptake in priority populations in a number of countries,” said Hans Kluge, the director of the World Health Organization.