Austria became the first Western country that made COVID vaccines mandatory for all citizens. This came as a response to the enormous wave of new COVID cases that was recorded on Thursday, despite the fact the sick have been locked down since Monday.
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The new measures and mandatory vaccines were announced on Friday, and the mandate will start fro in February 2022. The country will be in full lockdown in the meantime, starting from Monday.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg made the announcement at a press conference in a Tyrol hotel where Austrian government officials met last night to decide on the new measures.
“Starting Monday, for a maximum of 20 days, a nationwide lockdown will apply,” he announced. “In addition, we will initiate countrywide compulsory vaccination which will enter into effect from February 1, 2022.”
“Despite an intensive media campaign … we have not been able to convince enough people to get vaccinated,” explained Schallenberg. “For a long time, the political consensus was not to introduce mandatory vaccination … but we must look reality in the eyes.”
“This irresponsible, this is actually an attack on our health system,” he said. “Because of these radical anti-vaxxers and because of fake news, too many of us have not been vaccinated.”
“We don’t want a fifth wave,” said Schallenberg.
To date, roughly 2 million people out of Austria’s population of 9 million remain unvaccinated.