Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein attend the presentation of plans to introduce mandatory coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination for everyone in Vienna, Austria, on January 16. 2022. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
The Austrian Parliament voted on Thursday to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for adults from February 1, the first of its kind in Europe.
Lawmakers voted 137-33 in favor of the vaccination order, which will apply to all Austrian residents aged 18 and over. Pregnant women, those who for medical reasons cannot be vaccinated and people who have recovered from a coronavirus infection in the last six months are exempt.
Officials said the order is necessary because vaccination rates remain too low in the small Alpine country.
A vaccination point against COVID-19. The Austrian Government imposes a confinement on people who are not fully vaccinated (REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger)
Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein told parliament Thursday afternoon that the move represents a “huge and, for the first time, lasting step” in Austria’s fight against the pandemic.
“This is the way in which we can manage to escape from the cycle of openings and closings, of lockdowns,” he said, noting that it is not only about combating the Omicron variant, but any future variant that may arise. “That is why this law is so urgently needed right now,” he added.
The Austrian government first announced plans for a universal vaccination mandate in November, at the same time it imposed a lockdown that it has now lifted, and amid concerns that the vaccination rate in Austria was too low compared to Western Europe. As of Wednesday, 71.8% of the country’s 8.9 million people were considered fully vaccinated.
FILE PHOTO: Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer attends the presentation of plans to introduce compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for everyone in Vienna, Austria January 16, 2022. REUTERS/File Photo Lisa Niesner
Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s coalition government worked with two of the three opposition parties in Parliament on the plan for the implementation of the mandate. The plan indicates that the vaccine mandate goes into effect at the beginning of February, but its application will begin in March.
To begin with, the authorities will write to all households to inform about the new rules.
Starting in mid-March, the police will begin to check the vaccination status of the population through routine checks; People who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be asked in writing to do so and fined up to 600 euros ($685) if they fail to comply.
The mandate is expected to remain in effect until the end of January 2024.
(With AP information)
French scientists advance a universal nasal vaccine against COVID-19Self-tests for COVID-19: what impact can waste have on the environmentThe reasons why COVID-19 alters children’s diet