Austria makes Covid vaccination mandatory in EU first

21/1/2022 5:15:00 AM
Austria makes Covid vaccination mandatory in EU first

Austria makes Covid vaccination mandatory in EU first

Covid-19, Coronavirus

Austria makes Covid vaccination mandatory in EU first

VIENNA — Austria's parliament on Thursday (Jan 20) approved making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for adults from next month, becoming the first European country to do so despite a wave of protests opposing the measure.

All parties, except the far-right, supported the measure, with the new legislation passing with 137 votes in favour and 33 votes against it in the 183-seat parliament."It is adopted with the (necessary) majority," Ms Doris Bures, second president of the National Council, said.

To date, 72 per cent of Austrian residents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — in line with the European Union-wide average of just more than 70 per cent, but several percentage points below regional neighbours such as Italy and France.

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Austria makes Covid-19 vaccination mandatory in EU first

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Tens of thousands have demonstrated against mandatory vaccination in regular weekend rallies since the measure was announced in November in a bid to drive up the country's vaccination rate.Copy to clipboard https://str.LinkedIn WASHINGTON: A defiant President Joe Biden acknowledged missteps over the still-raging pandemic on Wednesday (Jan 19) but hailed a year of"enormous progress" on the US economy as he took stock of his first year in office.Copy to clipboard https://str.

All parties, except the far-right, supported the measure, with the new legislation passing with 137 votes in favour and 33 votes against it in the 183-seat parliament. "It is adopted with the (necessary) majority," Ms Doris Bures, second president of the National Council, said. Tens of thousands have demonstrated against mandatory vaccination in regular weekend rallies since the measure was announced in November in a bid to drive up the country's vaccination rate. To date, 72 per cent of Austrian residents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — in line with the European Union-wide average of just more than 70 per cent, but several percentage points below regional neighbours such as Italy and France. "But it has also been a year of enormous progress," the US leader said. Under the new law, which takes effect on Feb 4, those holding out against the jab can face fines of up to 3,600 euros (S$5,400) from mid-March after an initial"introductory phase". "It is adopted with the (necessary) majority," Doris Bures, second president of the National Council, said. The government initially wanted to cover everyone aged 14 and older, but now the measure only applies to adults, except pregnant women and those with a medical exemption.4 on Wednesday, Dr Lauterbach added.

CHARGED DEBATE The overwhelming majority of MPs from all parties voted in favour of the law, with the leaders of the opposition Social Democrats (SPOe) and the liberal NEOS lending their backing to the centre right-green coalition. Under the new law, which takes effect on Feb 4, those holding out against the jab can face fines of up to €3,600 (S$5,500) from mid-March after an initial"introductory phase"." It was Biden's first news conference of the year - and the first formal such event at all since November. The only significant opposition came from the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), which has courted anti-vaccination voters. FPOe leader Herbert Kickl railed against the law in the charged parliamentary debate on Thursday, claiming it"paves the way to totalitarianism in Austria". Charged debate The overwhelming majority of MPs from all parties voted in favour of the law, with the leaders of the opposition Social Democrats (SPOe) and the liberal NEOS lending their backing to the centre right-green coalition. He vowed that he himself would continue to refuse vaccination in defiance of the new law. It came as a new Gallup poll showed Biden with just 40 percent approval, down from 57 per cent when he started. "Vaccination is an opportunity for our society to achieve lasting and continuous freedom, because the virus cannot restrict us any further," centre-right Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters earlier ahead of the debate. FPOe leader Herbert Kickl railed against the law in the charged parliamentary debate on Thursday, claiming it"paves the way to totalitarianism in Austria". Dr Lauterbach said a vaccine mandate is needed to avert another wave of infections in the fall, and suggested it could come into effect as early as April once the bill has been approved by lawmakers.

Green Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein appealed during the debate on"all citizens to question myths around vaccination", insisting that"all the evidence indicates that the vaccines available in Austria are safe". SECURITY ZONES However, some Austrians remain to be convinced of the merits of vaccination, with a couple of hundred opponents of the law gathering for a noisy protest near parliament on Thursday morning. "Vaccination is an opportunity for our society to achieve lasting and continuous freedom, because the virus cannot restrict us any further," centre-right Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters earlier ahead of the debate." The White House points out that in the last year, unemployment fell to 3. Teacher Kerstin said she felt the law ran against the constitution and ignored the fact that"we are meant to have certain basic rights". Others present maintained that too few studies had been carried out on the long-term effects of the jabs and that they would resist paying any potential fines. On Wednesday, the government announced it was setting up"security zones" around health facilities and vaccination centres so that the police can turn away anyone"causing difficulties", including demonstrators. However, Biden has faced a string of recent setbacks, including the highest inflation in decades and the Supreme Court striking down the administration's vaccine mandate for large businesses. They made an"urgent recommendation" for wearing particle-filtering FFP-2 masks in stores and on public transport, and agreed to meet again to discuss the need for further measures.

To incentivise those who may still be wavering, the government is launching a lottery for all those vaccinated with prizes of 500-euro vouchers to be used in shops, hotels, restaurants and culture and sports venues. Austria has to date seen almost 14,000 Covid-related deaths and 1.5 million cases in a population of around nine million. Now, with a State of the Union speech to Congress set for Mar 1, Biden faces the rapidly approaching likelihood of a Republican comeback in midterm congressional elections this November. The daily infection tolls continue to break records, hitting a new high of more than 27,600 on Wednesday. Compulsory vaccinations against Covid remain rare worldwide, though Ecuador, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Micronesia have introduced such schemes.

AFP Related topics . Trump, who continues to perpetuate the lie that he beat Biden in 2020 and seeks to undermine Americans' faith in their election system, is eyeing a possible attempt at another run at the White House in 2024.