Recommendation: “On the mandatory vaccination in certain professional groups in the health sector”
Athens, 14 June 2021
The Recommendation of the National Commission for Bioethics & Technoethics “on mandatory vaccination in certain professional groups in the health sector” was issued following a relevant request by the Greek State and is addressing the ethical and legal dimension of the discussion set above, especially concerning the vaccinations against COVID-19.
Taking into consideration:
- the opinions stated by the Committee of Experts of COVID-19 and by the representatives of the interested organizations,
- the scientific data and the studies that have so far been published regarding the vaccines in question,
- the vaccination data about these specific professional groups in Greece,
- the principles of autonomy, of utility and of non maleficence,
- The principle of proportionality, and
- The legal dimension of the issue,
the Commission is proposing an approach of “escalating initiative” by the State, of three stages:
- Campaigns of targeted information and sensibilization regarding the voluntary vaccination adjusted to each professional sector (doctors, nurses, laboratory personnel, care facility personnel, etc.), based on scientific data and constantly updated, with the prerequisite of the previous understanding of the fears and general perceptions.
- Measures of encouragement/discouragement that could be planned by the State in cooperation with the administration of health care facilities, for example facilitating vaccination appointments, flexibility regarding the working schedule or days of vaccination, priority when choosing the days of paid leave of absence, mandatory use of double protective masks and personal safety equipment.
- The provision of mandatory vaccination as a last resort, in a specific time frame, should only be made if the previous measures do not result in significant raise of vaccination rates and should always be in accordance with the principle of proportionality and with the rest of the terms of the Commission’s Recommendation. Furthermore, it is necessary to consider the possible consequences to the division of duties and the staffing structure in case of non-compliance, in order to avoid the malfunction of these facilities or the burden caused by extra work for the rest of the staff.
The Commission remarks that this particular Recommendation only refers to healthcare personnel both of the public and of the private sector, as well as the personnel of care facilities for vulnerable groups. Finally, the Commission highlights that as time goes by, hesitation towards the COVID-19 vaccine has a tendency to decrease both for the professional groups in question and for the general population, as it appears in the daily data of the vaccination process in Greece and this should be taken seriously into account during the implementation of the options stated above.