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Austria is dropping compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for adults, saying it is unlikely that the measure, suspended since March, would raise one of western Europe’s lowest vaccination rates, Health Minister Johannes Rauch said on Thursday.
“The vaccine mandate won’t lead anyone to get vaccinated. Surveys have shown that 13% of people who live in Austria will not get vaccinated despite the vaccine mandate,” Rauch of the Greens told a news conference.
The rule – the only such sweeping mandate in the European Union – made vaccines compulsory for all adults with few exceptions.
There was no penalty for failing to comply when the measure was introduced in February, but the government suspended the mandate in March, six days before fines were due to start being imposed.
The government said at the time that there was less strain on hospitals as symptoms from the new omicron variant were often less severe, making compulsory vaccination disproportionate.