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January 26, 2023
The government of Austria announced this week it will end a controversial law that mandated COVID-19 vaccines, citing the vaccine’s lower efficacy against new variants and the fact that the virus has receded to a manageable point.
The government announced its intent to scrap the law in a press conference on Thursday. Health Minister Johannes Rauch told reporters, “Living with Covid means that we will bring forward a comprehensive package of measures, and today that means the abolition of compulsory vaccination.”
“The omicron variant changed the situation,” Rauch said, referring to less severe infection from newer COVID variants and decreased effectiveness of the vaccines against omicron and its sub variants. “Even people who are willing to vaccinate in principle are now more difficult to convince of the need for a third dose,” he added.
The law had previously been suspended until August, but due to COVID trends and statistics, the government made the decision to cancel the law altogether, but said it may still bring back the measure of checking vaccination status and issuing fines for not being vaccinated at all against COVID-19.
Rauch told reporters the implementation of the law did not result in more people receiving the shot, but rather divided the country. The day after the law was announced protests erupted in the streets of cities around the country.
The compulsory vaccine law was put into effect in early February this year, mandating that anyone 18 years old or more who was not exempt from being vaccinated must receive the jab, or be fined €3,600 for every 3 months they remain unvaccinated. The law was not scheduled to begin being enforced until March, at which time the government suspended the law.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: FT.COM