Suspension of compulsory vaccination of teachers

Prime Minister Kiryakos Mitsotakis has suspended discussions in the Greek parliament on a bill on mandatory vaccination of teachers.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis put an end to the discussion on mandatory vaccination of teachers with his speech in parliament yesterday during the discussion of the bill with the following phrase: “We were concerned about the possibility of mandatory vaccination of teachers, but I decided that now is not the time to make this decision.”

The prime minister then, in support of the bill, declared that “over 70% were vaccinated,” and asked for help from other parties in the discussion to further increase this number. “We need to send a signal to all parties that this vaccine refusal poses a health risk to teachers,” he said, urging all political forces to join forces to persuade unvaccinated teachers to rush to the vaccine.

Three reasons

There were specific reasons for the decision not to mandatorily vaccinate teachers.

The first has to do with a smooth return to school. The teacher teaches in different classes and departments. Teachers develop personal relationships with children who have been hit hard over the past year and a half, as all mental health studies show. Replacing one teacher with another and returning to his usual place after the end of the pandemic will inevitably cause serious and numerous problems. Simply put, it is much easier to replace a nurse temporarily than a teacher or professor.

The second reason the decision was made has to do with the percentage of vaccinated people. Doctors and health care workers in general were vaccinated much more frequently than teachers. In practice, this means that large personnel reserves will be required, which is currently impossible.

According to the available information, at the moment we have 46,500 unvaccinated teachers out of 155,000, this is a really large number, whose replacement is not easy. However, the government’s decision to undergo two laboratory tests a week for those teachers who have not been vaccinated is an “obstacle” that could lead many of them to vaccination centers.

The third reason is that the government, at a time when there is already tensions with the teaching industry over assessment, did not want to add another problem for itself. Moreover, education is traditionally very sensitive and produces political results. It was no coincidence that the Prime Minister said that compulsory vaccination was not an appropriate solution “in the current situation,” as Mr. Mitsotakis estimated the timing was not ideal for such a solution.

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