With the deadline for health workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or face suspension without pay expiring Tuesday, the government is sending a “clear” message that the law will be strictly applied – with all that entails.
“The law will be applied in full. The salary paid [to unvaccinated workers] in advance at the end of August will also be returned,” government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou said Monday, noting that there are no guarantees that suspended health workers, “even when they choose to get vaccinated, will return to the same positions, given that the character, needs and organization of the national health system will to a degree have changed.”
“The epidemiological burden in our country remains at high levels and the next period will be extremely crucial in the evolution of the pandemic,” he said.
Echoing the same sentiment regarding the enforcement of the law, Minister of State Akis Skertsos stressed earlier that the government is not going to back down on the issue of mandatory vaccinations for health workers, emphasizing that “it is a matter of protecting the healthcare workers themselves and the health of the patients.”
He added there is still time for those few thousand that did not get their jabs to do so Monday or Tuesday, “so that there are no problems with their work or with the operation of the national health system.”
Meanwhile, the application platform for the recruitment of auxiliary staff will open Tuesday as final data on the unvaccinated are expected.
Concerned with a new surge of cases expected in the fall, the government is keen to increase vaccination rates and testing. To this end, pharmacies will supply free self-test kits to eligible groups this week and mobile vaccination teams from the Health Ministry will be parked on public squares and outside churches.
“Data from the National Public Health Organization show that the pandemic at this stage mainly threatens our unvaccinated fellow citizens,” said Oikonomou, noting that the need to shield the public from the possibility of new universal restrictions is dictating the nature and content of the safety measures to protect both vaccinated and unvaccinated.
Since mid-August, when the first wave of vacationers began to return, vaccination appointments have risen, exceeding even 40,000 per day. However, the government is intent on vaccinating another one million people as soon as possible.