Austria presents first draft of vaccine mandate law: Here’s what we know

Doctor prepares vaccine
The law foresees fines of up to $3,600. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP
Austria on Thursday presented further details about its vaccine mandate law after some were leaked by media earlier in the week.

How will it work?

The details of the first draft were presented at press conference with Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein, Constitutional Minister Karoline Edtstadler and chairwoman of the Neos opposition party Beate Meinl-Reisinger. Most of the details were those leaked to press earlier this week. The draft is also supported by the centre-left SPÖ.

People who have not received a vaccination will be contacted by letter every three months with a reminder to get the jab, and will be subject to fines, also once every three months, if they do not get a vaccine.

“We ruled out compulsory vaccinations for a long time. But we learned during the pandemic that we shouldn’t exclude anything. I have changed my personal opinion about it and I know that we have to take this step,” said Mückstein at the press conference.

He urged people not to wait for a specific vaccine to be developed (for example the Franco-Austrian Valneva jab) or to wait until the mandate becomes law, but to get their vaccine as soon as possible.

What are the fines?

The fines for violating the mandate could be issued every three months or a maximum of four times a year. They would be set at €600, but the fine for refusing to pay the penalty would be higher, at a maximum of €3,600.

People’s personal financial situation would be taken into account when setting the fine, according to the draft.

Doctors who issue a false certificate of exemption will also face fines of up to €3,600.

Who will it apply to and who’s exempt?

The law is set to apply to people aged 14 and older.

The exceptions that will apply will be the same ones which currently apply to 2G and 3G rules. This means pregnant women will be exempt during their pregnancy, and people for whom vaccination is not medically advised will also be exempted with a requirement for a statement from a doctor. Guidelines will be written up for doctors to determine which conditions can lead to an exemption being granted.

For people who were previously covered by an exemption, the mandate would apply from the end of the month after the exemption ceasing to apply. This would be the case for teenagers after their 14th birthday, people after the birth of their child, and people who had a recovery certificate, for examples.

How long will the law be in place?

The law won’t be a permanent thing. It is currently set to come into effect on February 1st, 2022 with the first fines issued from March 15th. But the current draft sets an expiry date of January 2024.

What’s the next step?

The draft will now undergo a review process, provisionally set to end on January 10th 2022.


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