Austria makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all citizens

Austria makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all citizens
Austria makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all citizens

137 Austrian Members Parliament today voted in favor of making the vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for all citizens of the country. Only 33 MPs opposed the bill.

With overwhelming majority of the country’s lawmakers supporting the new legislation, the bill now heads to the upper house of Austrian Parliament to be debated and approved.

Since Austria’s governing parties – a coalition of the center-right People’s Party and the Greens – hold a majority in this chamber, the passage of the mandatory vaccination bill is virtually guaranteed.

The right-wing Freedom Party was the only party to oppose the mandate in parliament.

Set to come into effect on February 1, the bill will require every Austrian adult – except pregnant women or those exempt for medical reasons – to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Fines for those who refuse will start to be enforced from mid-March, and non-compliant citizens will eventually be hit with maximum fines of 3,600 euros ($4,000).

The law will empower Austrian authorities to keep a database of every citizen’s vaccination status and the expiry date of said status, which can be searched by officials. The law is to remain in place until 2024.

Mandatory vaccination was first proposed by the Austria‘s government back in November, and the announcement triggered mass protests. At the time, Austria had one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, which has since climbed to above the EU average. At present, just over 70% of Austrians are fully vaccinated, according to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Austria has implemented a number of strict measures since November 2021 in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, yet none have apparently worked.

Despite introducing a lockdown for the unvaccinated and a nationwide mask mandate – both enforced by police and harsh fines – Austria recorded more cases of COVID-19 on Thursday than at any point during the pandemic to date.

Deaths, however, have fallen dramatically since December.

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