Austria’s parliament on Thursday voted to mandate Covid vaccines for all adults beginning February 1.
This is the first of its kind in Europe.
“This is how we can manage to escape the cycle of opening and closing, of lockdowns,” Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said. “That is why this law is so urgently needed right now.”
Exemptions will be made for pregnant women, people who have recovered from Covid in the last 6 months or for people with medical reasons.
Austria’s parliament voted Thursday to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults from Feb. 1, the first of its kind in Europe.
Lawmakers voted 137 to 33 in favor of the mandate, which will apply to all residents of Austria aged 18 and over. Exemptions are made for pregnant women, people who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated, or who have recovered from a coronavirus infection in the past six months.
Officials say the mandate is necessary because vaccination rates remain too low in the small Alpine country.
Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein, speaking in parliament Thursday afternoon, called the measure a “big, and, for the first time, also lasting step” in Austria’s fight against the pandemic.
Austria imposed a lockdown for the unvaxxed shortly before the holidays.
The Austrian government will also heavily fine people who refuse to get vaccinated.