Austria scraps COVID vaccine mandate, says it split society
AP Jun 23, 2022 14 days ago
BERLIN (AP) — Austria's health minister announced Thursday that the country is scrapping a dormant coronavirus vaccine mandate, saying the measure risked polarizing society and could even lead to fewer people getting the shot.
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Health Minister Johannes Rauch said the rise of new virus variants had changed citizens' perception of the effectiveness and necessity of a vaccination, even among those willing to get the shot.
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This could deter them from voluntarily getting booster shots that will help curb the outbreak in the fall, he said.
“The vaccine mandate hinders some people who are generally willing to get the shot from taking the booster, the idea being: I'm not going to be told what to do,” said Rauch.
He said current hardships such as inflation and high energy prices, and fears surrounding the war in Ukraine, had contributed to tensions in society.
“We need every millimeter of solidarity and cohesion to cope with the coming months and years,” said Rauch. “And the debate surrounding compulsory vaccination and the hardening of positions over this question tore open rifts and did away with that solidarity.”
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