Compulsory vaccination in Austria: new decision to be made in three months

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Compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus will be suspended. The government decided this in the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.

Constitutional Minister Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP) explained that the duty is not proportionate with the prevailing Omicron variant. A new decision is to be made in three months, as Health Minister Johannes Rauch explained.

The basis for the decision is the report of an expert commission. The recommendations contained therein would be implemented “of course, “Edtstadler stressed. The suspension of the obligation is taking place “because many arguments suggest that the encroachment on fundamental rights is not justified. “The Commission’s report “clearly states” that vaccination helps and is an “effective means” – but that one must react flexibly to the situation and that “a virus variant is now prevalent that does not cover this (compulsory vaccination, note). “

The constitutional minister stressed that this was probably not the last chapter in the matter of compulsory vaccination: “Just as the virus is very mobile, we have to be flexible and adaptable.” Therefore, the law on mandatory vaccination will continue to exist in the background.

Rauch said the Commission would present its following report in three months at the latest, after which a new decision will follow. He said that the path taken now is based on the pillars of proportionality and constitutionality and that of scientific evidence.

The new health minister also stressed that vaccination remains the tried-and-true means of getting the pandemic under control – something the Commission had also noted. “Vaccinating protects us all,” he said. “Get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Get the second or third vaccination if you haven’t already,” he appealed. Because the Commission also says that it cannot be ruled out that in the fall, we could again be confronted with a variant “that has similar effects on the health system as we have already experienced.”

Suspending mandatory vaccination altogether, rather than just penalties, was a deliberate move; Rauch and Edstadler stressed, “It hits on exactly what I’ve said as a former judge: A law without penalties is toothless and pointless. We are therefore suspending compulsory vaccination per se. That entails that there are also no controls.” The “flexible” law also allows for this: all that is needed is a decree from the Minister of Health and a decision in the central committee, but no change in the law, Edtstadler emphasized.

Should the situation make it necessary to reinstate compulsory vaccination, the two government members assured that they would react quickly. In the preparations, one will not wait for the three months but will “react and be prepared” to the situation, Rauch said. Should it be necessary, then one will react “very quickly,” Edtstadler also said.

The expert commission on compulsory vaccination, which prepared the now decisive report for the government, was already included when the law was anchored. In addition to the two medical experts, Eva Schernhammer and Herwig Kollaritsch have constitutional and medical lawyer Karl Stöger and legal scholar Christiane Wendehorst.

  • source: k.at/picture: pixabay.com

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