Austria abandons COVID vaccine mandate | TSWT | 23.06.2022

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Austria is scrapping an already suspended COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Health Minister Johannes Rauch said on Thursday.

“We have decided as a government to remove the vaccine mandate,” Rauch said at a press conference. “Living with COVID means we will introduce a comprehensive set of measures, and today that means the abolition of compulsory vaccination.”

“Nobody gets vaccinated because of compulsory vaccination,” he said.

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People had to be convinced to get vaccinated, Rauch explained. “And we can only achieve that when it’s on a voluntary basis.”

Originally, the plan was to threaten those who refuse vaccination with a fine of up to €3,600 ($3,780), starting March 15. But at the beginning of March, there were few signs that people were reacting to the possible financial penalties, and the law was suspended.

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On Wednesday, just 140 people across Austria received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

How Austria’s vaccination mandate was received

In February, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen signed into law a mandate for all eligible adults over the age of 18 in the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

This decision sparked strong protests, in part directed against doctors, some of whom have received death threats.

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Last month, Austria announced it would drop its mask-wearing mandate, although the Health Ministry said it could return later in the year.

About 62.4% of the Austrian population is double vaccinated.

More than 20,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Austria.

jsi/rt (TSWT, Reuters, dpa)

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