Corona pandemic: Austria abolishes compulsory vaccination

Status: 06/23/2022 3:17 p.m

First Austria was a pioneer in Europe, then the country began to hesitate about compulsory corona vaccination. The measure has now been abolished altogether. Similar to Germany, the number of new infections is currently increasing significantly.

Austria is abolishing the obligation to vaccinate against the corona virus, which has been suspended anyway. The conservative-green government has agreed on this, said Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens). “The obligation to vaccinate does not bring anyone to vaccinate,” said the minister.

The vaccination requirement was announced at the end of 2021 and applied from February. It was supported by all parties except for the right-wing FPÖ. Austria was a pioneer in the EU. Other countries only had age-specific regulations. It was originally planned in Austria, starting March 15, to threaten anyone who refuses with a fine of up to 3,600 euros.

Vaccination tore “deep ditches”

But already at the beginning of March there were indications of a move away from the obligation to vaccinate. At that time, the government of the conservative ÖVP and the Greens said that the requirement was not proportionate to the prevailing Omicron variant.

The debate about compulsory vaccination has torn deep rifts among families, clubs and companies, said Rauch. Society needs solidarity, especially at a time marked by many worries, massive inflation and the Ukraine war.

Only on a voluntary basis

With a view to new corona waves, the population must be convinced of the usefulness of a booster vaccination. “We can only do this if the willingness is based on voluntariness,” said Rauch.

In Germany, too, compulsory corona vaccination for all adults had been discussed for a long time. In April failed in the German Bundestag a draft law on compulsory corona vaccination from the age of 60, supported by many politicians in the traffic light coalition.

Interest in vaccination rather low

In Austria – despite the threat of compulsory vaccination – interest in an injection has declined significantly since the beginning of the year. Since March there has been a particularly pronounced lull in the vaccination stations. On Wednesday, only 140 people received an injection for the first time. 3,500 received a second shot or a booster shot. 62.4 percent of Austrians have valid vaccinations.

Similar to Germany, the number of new corona infections is currently increasing significantly. The seven-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants in Austria is currently around 550. The number of patients in the normal wards of the hospitals has recently increased again. The situation in the intensive care units has so far remained unchanged. The occupancy of the beds with Covid 19 patients is similarly low there as in summer 2021.

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