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Police and firefighter vaccination likely to be compulsory in Latvia

Vaccination is likely to be compulsory also for police officers and firefighters, according to the Interior Minister, Marija Golubeva, Latvian Radio reported July 16.

Although the amendments to the law on compulsory vaccination specifically highlight educational, social care and medical institutions, the obligation on state institutions to provide epidemiologically safe services means that the obligation to vaccinate will apply to a much wider range of employees. Heads of establishments will decide on whom it will apply to, but it is likely to affect those working in internal affairs services.

“If this law comes into force, of course, we will act in accordance with this law, and in the home affairs sector services can be provided to people either by vaccinated workers or by workers who have overcome Covid-19,” Golubeva said.

46% of the officials have completed the vaccination at the time, while 9% have had Covid-19, said Deputy Chief of State Police Andrejs Grišins. Since the law has not entered into force, he did not respond specifically to whether vaccination is intended to be compulsory, but this is likely to be the case in a number of areas of activity, such as public order, investigation and operational activities.

“By joining the police ranks, we do not only enter into employment legal relations. We joined the service. We also need to donate more than what is required in ordinary work. This is probably the challenge where the police officer should show his position and make the right choice,” Grišins said.

There are fewer vaccinated among firefighters. Deputy Chief of State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) Kristaps Eklons said 32% of employees were vaccinated. A further 12% have had Covid-19. Although Eklons acknowledged that the result was not good, the trend was positive. Next week, firefighters will have a workshop on vaccination to address concerns and myths. Eklons hopes that the employees will be convinced to vaccinate, but the service also supports the introduction of vaccination as compulsory.

“It's a good tool if just encouragement doesn't work. Let us not forget, however, that our country has assigned specific tasks, functions that we need to implement. Some may just be lost in their interests, forgetting the mission, the obligation they have committed to when they started,” Eklons said.

Armands Augustāns, head of the Latvian Interior Workers' Union, pointed out that mandatory vaccination in services is a complex issue and, in principle, the trade union supports the voluntary approach but that compulsory vaccination would be acceptable if justified.

 

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