Austria’s equivalent of the House of Commons voted yesterday in favour of the new Government proposals to fine the unvaccinated the equivalent of thousands of pounds. The BBC has more.
The law, which is due to come into effect on February 1st, would make Austria the first [i.e., only] European country to introduce a mandatory jab.
From mid-March the law will see adults unvaccinated against COVID-19 subjected to fines of up to €3,600 (£2,994).
So far, 72% of Austrians have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
The bill must now pass the upper house and be signed into law by President Alexander Van der Bellen, steps largely expected to be formalities.
The vaccine order is expected to remain in force until January 2024, with the government investing €1.4bn in measures designed to encourage unvaccinated people to come forward for the jab.
Addressing lawmakers on Thursday afternoon, Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein called the measure a “big, and, for the first time, also lasting step” in Austria’s fight against the pandemic.
Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters ahead of the vote that vaccines were “an opportunity for our society to achieve lasting and continuous freedom, because the virus cannot restrict us any further”.
A majority of MPs, including those from Mr. Nehammer’s governing centre-right coalition and the three main opposition parties, backed the bill, by 137 votes to 33.
The far-right Freedom Party, which has courted the votes of Austria’s substantial anti-vaccine minority, has taken a stand against the bill.
Its leader, Herbert Kickl, said the mandate “paves the way to totalitarianism in Austria” and vowed he would continue to refuse vaccination in defiance of the new law.
Since authorities announced they intended to introduce the mandate in November the capital, Vienna, has seen regular protests, with some numbering over 40,000 people.
The demonstrations have attracted a coalition of anti-vaccine campaigners and far-right extremists, and authorities have warned that they have been radicalising in recent weeks, with new “protective zones” declared around healthcare facilities and vaccination centres to protect workers.
Similar vaccine mandates are being introduced in several other countries, including in Greece, where jabs are now obligatory for everyone aged 60.
In neighbouring Germany, the new Government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said it will introduce a vaccination bill in the Bundestag in March.
Alarming stuff. Have they learned nothing from history? Worth reading in full.
The BBC article links to an earlier article from last month where the BBC sets out three arguments in favour of forced vaccination (thanks Auntie) and three against. The three in favour include that we’ve tried everything else and it will supposedly “end the cycle of lockdowns” – right, like everything else governments have inflicted on us these past two years. The arguments against include that some people may not like it and, well, maybe we haven’t exhausted all our other options – so not balanced at all, and no mention of the crucial fact that the vaccines don’t prevent infection or transmission, or that the majority of new infections and deaths are in the vaccinated.