Months after making law, Austria scrap mandatory Covid vaccination

Just months after it was passed into law, the Austrian government said Thursday that it will abandon the contentious national policy requiring coronavirus immunization.

The law enacting the policy, which was a first for the EU, went into force at the beginning of February, and the first inspections were scheduled to begin in the middle of March. Those who refused to receive the vaccination risked fines of up to 3,600 euros ($4,100).

The administration stated that such a broad measure could no longer be justified by the threat the coronavirus posed, thus the program was postponed in March before any inspections were conducted.

The nine million-person nation was deeply divided as a result of the legislation, according to Health Minister Johannes Rauch, who also claimed that some individuals were discouraged from taking the vaccine because of the element of coercion.

Nobody is being immunized because of the obligation, he claimed.

Rauch noted that while the wave triggered by the Omicron variation tended to produce individuals with milder symptoms, it had also “modified the rules”.

Except for pregnant women, those who had the virus less than 180 days before, and people with medical exemptions, the obligation had extended to everyone over the age of 18.

At the same news conference, the leader of the People’s Party’s (OeVP) parliamentary group, August Woeginger, predicted that the law requiring mandatory vaccination will be abolished soon.

The idea of mandatory vaccination has drawn tens of thousands of people to the streets on many occasions since it was initially proposed last year as a method to increase Austria’s immunization rate.

Only 62 percent of the population presently possesses a valid vaccination certificate, trailing behind several other Western European nations, according to the most recent government statistics.

In Austria, the virus has caused more than 18,700 fatalities.

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