NEWS

Skeptical doctors face colleagues’ wrath

Medical associations calling out members for role in misleading public about Covid-19 shots

skeptical-doctors-face-colleagues-wrath

Alarmed at social media posts by doctors arguing against Covid-19 vaccines and their potential influence on a hesitant public, medical association across Greece have launched disciplinary procedures against their anti-vaccine colleagues.

One of the first cases concerned a doctor in the city of Larissa who, on May 17, posted on her Facebook account calling on her followers to “say ‘no’ to anti-Covid-19 vaccines” that have “serious side-effects” and “disrupt human DNA.” As with many alarmist posts, this one was in all-caps and littered with exclamation points.

On July 16, the doctor was fined 3,000 euros for violating the medical code of ethics. It took two months from post to fine because Constantinos Giannakopoulos, the local medical association’s president, made use of a 2018 law and opened an investigation himself instead of referring the case to the board’s disciplinary committee, which would have taken much longer, he told Kathimerini.

Giannakopoulos says he has heard from several colleagues across Greece about how to discipline denialist doctors. Many have recently opened disciplinary procedures against members.

By last Friday, about 64% of adult residents of Greece had been fully vaccinated and bookings for vaccinations had slowed down, only partly because of the holidays. Maria Theodoridou, professor emerita of pediatrics and president of the National Vaccination Committee, says she estimates the hardcore deniers at only 7-8% of the population and says most of the remaining unvaccinated people are hesitant and could be persuaded. It is upon this group that denialist doctors could have a big effect, their colleagues estimate.