News in brief

Austria delays mandatory vaccine scheme

| 2022-01-10 < 1 min read

Austria delays mandatory vaccine scheme

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Austria will delay its controversial mandatory vaccination programme by two months until April for technical reasons, electronic health record office ELGA GmbH, which is overseeing the process, announced Friday.

The news came as scepticism rose in Austria’s epidemiological and academic communities regarding the programme.  Karl Stoger, a member of government’s pandemic advisory body GECKO, said the compulsory vaccination law should include options to delay the move, although potential new variants could necessitate its implementation.

Epidemiologist and Danube University Krems Professor Gerald Gartlehner told state broadcaster ORF that the highly infectious Omicron variant will accelerate immunisation at an unprecedented rate. Compulsory vaccinations probably have to be reevaluated after this wave, he explained.

Due to the delay in the implementation, compulsory vaccinations could come “too late for the Omicron variant,” Peter Bussjager, a constitutional lawyer at the University of Innsbruck, told Wiener Zeitung. The Austrian government said it is considering postponing the date for issuing fines to unvaccinated residents.