Austria ends mandatory vaccination


Central Europe


Photo AFP, Florian Wieser

Austria ended its vaccine mandate for the corona virus four months after becoming the first EU country to make the injections mandatory.

The controversial law was introduced in February but never enforced. In March, the legislation was suspended because its "encroachment of fundamental rights" could no longer be justified by the danger posed by the Covid virus.

According to the Austrian health minister, Johannes Rauch, "Omicron has changed the rules". Besides, even if vaccination refusal is punishable by law, the number of people willing to be vaccinated would not chang. In addition, Rauch said that the obligation to immunize and the debate about it in society have caused "deep rifts". "These run through families, clubs and companies." This reports the Austrian daily Krone Zeitung.

Building bridges

According to Rauch, the vaccination obligationwas introduced under different cirumstances. At the time, Delta was the dominant Covid variant that caused high hospitalization rates. "The intensive care units were at the limit of their capacity." The minister said that he supported compulsory vaccination at the time, "but Omikron has changed the rules". This reports the Austrian news portal ORF.

Since the controversial law will be abolished, it is time to "fill the trenches and build bridges", Rauch said.

According to Rauch, the government wants to present an "overall package of measures" for "living with Covid". The package should offer protection for the vulnerable and at the same time make society able to get out of a "disaster mode" - towards a "phase of living with the virus".

On Thursday, a motion to abolish the vaccination requirement will be submitted at the National Council meeting. This should be decided in July. The measure is currently suspended by regulation until August 31.



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