The leadership of a trade union has accused Larnaca Mayor Andreas Vyras of threatening a group of staff at a senior home over their refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19, with the official saying he only pleaded with them to reconsider.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the island-wide union ISOTITA (Greek for: equality) issued a written statement accusing Vyras of “threatening staff at the Larnaca Municipal Senior Home that they would get fired if they failed to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.”
ISOTITA accused the mayo’s actions as an “arbitrary move that amounts to abuse of authority,” citing employer-employee relations and workers rights.
“His behaviour is erratic because vaccination, as a medical act, always calls for written and unforced consent by a person so that his or her autonomy and free will are protected,” the union said.
'I believe it is hugely inconsiderate and reckless when people who take care of the elderly do not want to get vaccinated against COVID-19'
But the mayor, who says he wanted staff to reconsider getting the shot, argued he never threatened anyone’s job over vaccinations.
Vyras told CNA that he merely emphasized to the staff that “most deaths from the coronavirus were linked to senior homes and closed facilities,” with the mayor adding that “any and all measures to our disposal ought to be taken so that the virus does not get transmitted over our watch.”
“I challenge anyone to state publicly if we ever said anything about people being fired during our meeting with staff yesterday in case they did not get vaccinated,” Vyras said.
The mayor went on to admit that staff had been told repeatedly to get the COVID-19 shot because “they take care of the elderly in closed facilities, while keeping in mind that the high numbers in coronavirus deaths involved senior citizens in vulnerable groups.”
“The enormous responsibility for the lives of our fellow citizens, especially people in vulnerable groups, falls on our shoulders and I believe it is hugely inconsiderate and reckless for people who take care of the elderly not to want to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” the mayor said.
Vaccine mandatory only for national emergency
According to health expert Leondios Kostrikis, who is a member of a task force advising the government on pandemic matters, vaccinations need not be compulsory unless there is an national emergency.
During an online speech to college students on Thursday, Kostrikis said “under no circumstances should vaccinations ever be mandatory unless we end up dealing with a national disaster.”