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    Vaccination “compulsory” from February in Austria

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    Austria makes vaccination compulsory. From the beginning of February, adults will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, under penalty of a heavy fine, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Sunday. “As planned, we are going to make vaccination compulsory at the beginning of February” for those over 18, the conservative head of government said in Vienna at a press conference, aware of the “sensitive” nature of this first in Europe which divides society. All week, heated debates took place in Parliament concerning this project, while approximately 71.5% of the population has at this stage a complete vaccination schedule. “It is a sensitive project” but “in accordance with the Constitution”, which requires “an adaptation phase” allowing the recalcitrant to be vaccinated “until mid-March”, he detailed.

    27,000 people were still demonstrating on Saturday in the Austrian capital against this controversial measure, accused of flouting individual freedoms. “Afterwards, checks will be carried out” and not being vaccinated will constitute an “offence” liable to financial “penalties” varying between 600 and 3,600 euros, in the event of a repeat offense.

    Up to four fines per person

    All non-vaccinated will receive a summons for the administration of a first injection and those who do not show up will be fined after reminders. The law provides for up to four fines per individual. The police will be empowered to carry out checks on the public highway. A time considered, the vaccination of minors over the age of 14 has been abandoned and only adults will be concerned, said the leader by presenting the bill, which must be adopted Thursday by Parliament.

    The vaccination pass is required in a growing number of countries for certain professions, population categories or the practice of activities. But the compulsory anti-Covid vaccination for all remains an exception. It entered into force in Ecuador, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Micronesia. In Germany, a similar project, championed by the new Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz, could be debated in the Bundestag at the end of January.

    A vaccination target of 90%

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    The Austrian government justifies this measure by the congestion of hospitals linked to the Omicron variant and its desire to achieve a vaccination rate of 90%, allowing, according to the advice of its experts, to achieve collective immunity. It has a large majority in the chamber: in addition to the Conservatives and the Greens, the leaders of the Social Democratic and Liberal parties support the text. Only the extreme right is opposed to it, in the name of the protection of individual freedoms.

    Exceptions are made for pregnant women, people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and people who have contracted the disease, considered to have the necessary antibodies for 180 days.

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