Greek Medical Staff Protest Vaccine Requirement

A health worker stands outside Laiko Hospital after a protest in Athens, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.
A health worker stands outside Laiko Hospital after a protest in Athens, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Staff at public hospitals have held protests around Greece on the deadline to comply with a vaccination mandate for health care workers or face suspension without pay. The government says the measure is needed to safeguard hospitals amid a third major surge in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece — Staff at public hospitals have held protests around Greece Wednesday on the deadline to comply with a vaccination mandate for health care workers or face suspension without pay.

The government says the measure is needed to safeguard hospitals amid a third major surge in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

But health care unions say it is unnecessary, noting that an estimated 95% of doctors and 90% of other staff at the country’s largest hospitals are fully vaccinated.

Infection levels spiked in August to the highest level recorded in the country so far, and pressure on hospitals has been building in recent weeks.

Nearly 64% of Greece’s adult population is now fully vaccinated, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, while the European Union average reached 70% Tuesday.

Health care unions in Greece say they support the government’s vaccination campaign but oppose mandates. A three-hour work stoppage at public hospitals is planned Thursday.

No arrests were reported at the small and peaceful protests.

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