Austrian Parliament votes to make COVID-19 vaccines necessary for many adults

Austria’s parliament voted Thursday to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults from February 1, the primary of its variety in Europe.

Lawmakers voted 137 to 33 in favor of the mandate, which can apply to all residents of Austria aged 18 and over. Exemptions are made for pregnant girls, individuals who for medical causes cannot be vaccinated, or who’ve recovered from a coronavirus an infection up to now six months.
Officers say the mandate is critical as a result of vaccination charges stay too low within the small Alpine nation.
Well being Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein, talking in parliament Thursday afternoon, known as the measure a “large, and, for the primary time, additionally lasting step” in Austria’s battle in opposition to the pandemic.
“That is how we are able to handle to flee the cycle of opening and shutting, of lockdowns,” he stated, noting that it is about combating not simply Omicron, however any future variants that may emerge. “That’s the reason this legislation is so urgently wanted proper now.”

Austria’s MPs are seen throughout a vote at a session of Austria’s parliament Nationalrat on January 20, 2022 in Vienna. 

ROLAND SCHLAGER/APA/AFP by way of Getty Photos

The Austrian authorities first introduced the plan for a common vaccine mandate on the identical time it imposed a since-lifted lockdown in November, and amid concern that Austria’s vaccination price was comparatively low for Western Europe. As of Wednesday, 71.8% of the inhabitants of 8.9 million was thought-about absolutely vaccinated.
Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s governing coalition labored with two of the three opposition events in parliament on the plan to implement the mandate. It requires the vaccine mandate to enter impact initially of February, however enforcement will begin in March.
To begin, authorities will write to each family to tell them of the brand new guidelines.
From mid-March, police will begin checking individuals’s vaccination standing throughout routine checks; individuals who cannot produce proof of vaccination might be requested in writing to take action, and might be fined as much as 600 euros ($685) if they do not.
If authorities decide the nation’s vaccination progress nonetheless to be inadequate, Nehammer stated they might then ship reminders to individuals who stay unvaccinated. If that also would not work, individuals could be despatched a vaccination appointment and fined if they do not maintain it. Officers hope they will not want to make use of the final measure. Fines might attain 3,600 euros if individuals contest their punishment and full proceedings are opened.
The mandate is meant to stay in place till the tip of January 2024. An skilled fee will report back to the federal government and parliament each three months on vaccination progress.
The federal government initially supposed for the mandate to use to all residents 14 and over, however modified that to 18 throughout consultations with political opponents and others.
Another European international locations have launched vaccine mandates for particular skilled or age teams. Neighboring Germany is contemplating a mandate for all, nevertheless it’s not but clear whether or not, when and in what type that can go forward.

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