Covid-19: Austria to end compulsory vaccination

The Austrian government announced on Thursday the total abandonment of its compulsory vaccination policy against Covid-19, after having already suspended it in March barely a month after its entry into force.

The Austrian government announced on Thursday the total abandonment of its compulsory vaccination policy against Covid-19, after having already suspended it in March barely a month after its entry into force.

“We now have to live with Covid, so we are going to implement a series of measures, which means the end of compulsory vaccination,” said Minister of Health Johannes Rauch during a press conference in Vienna.

The strategy “had been put in place in a different context”, with overcrowded hospital units, he stressed.

“But the Omicron variant changed the rules,” added the environmental minister. “Even those who had agreed to be vaccinated are now reluctant to be given another dose.”

A text that came into force on February 5

This law is not considered by the commission of experts “necessary either from a medical or constitutional point of view”, and has created “a deep division within Austrian society”, explained Rauch.

The text entered into force on February 5, an unprecedented measure in the European Union (EU) and which had aroused strong opposition from part of the population of 9 million inhabitants.

All residents over the age of 18 were affected, with the exception of pregnant women, those who contracted the virus less than 180 days ago and finally those who can be exempted for medical reasons.

The checks were to begin in mid-March, with penalties ranging from 600 to 3,600 euros.

18,700 deaths recorded in the country

But finally, the government had decided to suspend the application of the law in the face of the slightest danger of the Omicron variant.

“There are currently many arguments to say that this attack on fundamental rights is not justified”, declared Karoline Edtstadler, in charge of the Constitution.

Moreover, the law failed to convince the reluctant.

Currently, some 62% of the population has a valid vaccination certificate, a rate that places Austria behind many Western European countries.

The Alpine country has deplored more than 18,700 deaths since the emergence of the pandemic.

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