About 300 public hospital workers in Greece have held a five-hour strike against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for public and private sector health care workers.
The workers rallied outside the health ministry in Athens on Thursday to protest against the government’s decision to suspend public and private health care workers who don’t receive at least one dose of the vaccine by September 1.
The Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees (POEDIN) is Greece’s public hospital workers’ union and says while it supports the vaccines, it opposes making them mandatory.
“We will not leave defenseless the health care and social care workers who have a personal right to vaccination,” the union said.
“Patients are not at risk of catching the coronavirus from health care workers.”
“Hospitals are filling up again with patients suffering from the coronavirus which they caught in the community.”
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias says the protestors of the measure were “small minorities” who advocate for issues related to the national health system.
“They are in the opposite direction of the majority of Greek society, which wants to protect public health,” he said.
More than half of Greece’s population is now fully vaccinated, with more than 11 million vaccine doses administered.
Vaccination was optional except for those in the health care sector, but the government announced new temporary testing requirements and restrictions for those who are unvaccinated on Tuesday.
The new measures include mandatory weekly or twice-weekly testing for unvaccinated public and private sector workers.