Austria makes Covid vaccines mandatory — Analysis

The country’s parliament has made vaccination compulsory for all citizens, with those who resist facing fines of up to 3,600 euros ($4,000)

The overwhelming majority of Austrian MPs decided on Thursday that they would force citizens against Covid-19 to be vaccinated. People who don’t comply could face fines as high as 3,600 euros ($4,000).

The bill was approved by 137 votes and rejected only by 33. As Austria’s governing parties – a coalition of the center-right People’s Party and the Greens – hold a majority in this chamber, its passage is virtually guaranteed.

Only the right-wing Freedom Party opposed the mandate in parliament.

Thousands protest over Europe’s first mandatory vaccine plan

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. The law will apply fines to those refusing to vaccinate. Non-compliance will result in a maximum penalty of 3,600 euro ($4,000).

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

The Austrian government first suggested compulsory vaccination in November. This announcement provoked mass protests. Austria at that time had one of Europe’s lowest vaccination rates. This has now risen to meet the EU standard. The World Health Organization reports that just 70% of Austrians currently have their vaccines up to date.

However, demonstrations continued with many taking to the streets in Vienna to protest the law’s passage. It is expected that there will be more demonstrations this weekend after its passage.

Austria implemented several harsh measures in November to stop the spread of coronavirus. However, none of these have 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. The number of deaths has fallen significantly since December.

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