The latest measures proposed by the Commission for Infectious Diseases to curb the number of covid outbreaks — showing a vaccination certificate, a legitimate medical exemption from vaccination, or proof of a negative PCR test taken at the worker’s expense no more than 72 hours before arriving at work — will be considered by the Crisis Coordination Headquarters on Monday before forwarding its decision to the government. The measures include a vaccine mandate for health workers, as well.

The government is to review the proposal in the coming days. If the measures are put into force as is, labor unions say, unvaccinated workers would need to spend Mden 20,000 per month on the required 10 PCR tests.

“If the state doesn’t provide funds from the 2022 budget for free PCR tests for all workers, and if employers say their employees cover their own testing costs so they can come to work for a minimum wage of 15,200 denars while making millions in profit for the companies, workers will die of starvation sooner than of the coronavirus,” representatives from the Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia told MIA.

Unionists are not against vaccination, they add, but they think it should be a personal choice, saying vaccination should have been promoted through information campaigns instead as well as incentives, such as giving employees days off after the vaccination.

The Confederation of Free Trade Unions, too, is against a vaccine mandate for workers, saying the vaccines had arrived late in the country, campaigns were also not timely, and the latest measures were repressive.

“Of course the workers would react explosively to this,” the Confederation of Free Trade Unions said in a statement for MIA.

The two unions, being the largest in the country, are urging the government not to accept the measures as proposed by the Commission on Infectious Diseases.

Health authorities, meanwhile, say the measures need to be implemented so more people get vaccinated ahead of the winter season, which will mostly be spent indoors amid cold and flu outbreaks.

“We have to prepare for the bad scenarios, meaning overcrowded hospitals and full covid centers,” Health Minister Venko Filipche said after announcing the new measures last week.

According to the Ministry of Health in its regular reports, the percentage of unvaccinated citizens who end up hospitalized is much higher than that of vaccinated people. Also, a significantly higher percent of unvaccinated people die of covid-related complications.

If adopted, the new measures would enter into force ten days later after the government’s decisions, so citizens have time to be vaccinated. Health workers would be given 30 days to get their mandatory covid shots.

Source: MIA