Ever since the early days of the pandemic, one question we have frequently been asked by our readers and members is whether the coronavirus vaccine would be made compulsory in Austria.
As The Local Austria has reported on several occasions, the government has been emphatic in emphasising that the vaccine would remain voluntary since the outbreak of the pandemic.
However, given the frequency with which we have been asked the question – and the persistent scepticism from a small minority of readers that the government would go back on its word – we thought it necessary to address the matter in a stand-alone article.
Will Austria make the coronavirus vaccine compulsory?
In 2020, before the vaccine rollout began in Austria, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober promised that compulsory vaccination was completely off the table.
Instead, Anschober said the Austrian government would focus on an education campaign which informed people about the effectiveness, safety and benefit of the vaccine.
On the Austrian government’s website, compulsory vaccination has been clearly ruled out.
“There is no compulsory vaccination in Austria. The decision for or against a vaccination rests with each person or with the person who is responsible for the care and upbringing (of the vaccinated person).”
Rational decisions rather than emotional ones
While the Österreich impft (Austria vaccinates) campaign has come under some fire for failing to cater to Austria’s foreign population, the campaign has addressed many of the concerns surrounding the vaccine directly.
Herwig Kollaritsch, a doctor and member of the Austrian Vaccination Committee, said at a press conference as the vaccination scheme was rolled out that the goal is to encourage people to make a rational decision rather than an emotional one regarding vaccines.
While Kollaritsch said that no vaccine was 100 percent safe, each of the coronavirus vaccines which are currently being brought to market showed high levels of safety.
According to the Austrian government, doctors will inform each and every patient about the nature of the vaccine and the coronavirus itself.
“In order to be able to make the decision, information and clarification from the doctor is required. Before carrying out the vaccination, doctors must therefore inform the person being vaccinated ( or, before the age of 14, a parent or the person responsible for care and upbringing) about the disease to be prevented and the vaccination.”
Note: This piece was corrected on March 17th. Herwig Kollaritsch is a member rather than the head of the Austrian Vaccination committee.