Jan 21, 2022 - Health

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A man gets a vaccine at the vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of the famous St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna on August 11.
A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

The big picture: Austrian officials will notify all residents once the law takes effect and start checking vaccination status via traffic stops and other methods by mid-March, according to a government statement.

  • Those who refuse to get vaccinated once the mandate takes effect will be fined up to €3,600 ($4,000), Time magazine notes.
  • Exemptions for medical reasons including pregnancy will be permitted.
  • The government is running a lottery offering the chance to win €500 ($566) in gift vouchers if people get vaccinated, per Time.

By the numbers: About 75% of Austria's population is fully vaccinated, up from 65% when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown last November.

  • The country has recorded 252,235 new cases and 460 deaths from the virus in the past month, according to Johns Hopkins University.
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