Austrian Compulsory Vaccination Bill is Ready: "We Want Freedom Back!"

Lifestyle & TravelHealth ♦ Published: December 10, 2021; 15:54 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Austrian government has announced that the controversial compulsory vaccination bill is finally ready. Read what Constitutional Minister Edtstadler said about the bill and regaining freedom.

Austrian Constitutional Minister Karoline Edtstadler at a joint press conference on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Christoper Dunker

At a joint press conference with Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein and NEOS Chairwoman Beate Meinl-Reisinger, Austrian Constitutional Minister Karoline Edtstadler announced that the draft of the controversial mandatory vaccination bill is finally ready.

The draft bill provides for general compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 from the age of 14.

The bill is being touted by its supporters as the way in which Austrians can finally regain their freedom from lockdowns due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Supported by four parties and experts

Minister Edtstadler emphasized the fact that the bill has broad support, even from opposition parties, specifically the NEOS and SPÖ.

She noted that countless discussions have been held in recent weeks with youth and senior citizens’ representatives, religious societies, medical professionals, scientists, sociologists, and economists.

“The tenor of all these discussions was always unanimous. We need a general vaccination requirement in Austria to get out of this pandemic,” said Edtstadler.

Law offers the possibility of “active repentance”

“Our goal was always to present a balanced bill, with clear exceptions and penalties to emphasize the importance of the matter," Edtstadler said.

She explained that there will also be the option to “vaccinate your way out” of a penalty–known in legal jargon as “active repentance.”

The process is to be carried out by the federal states in indirect federal administration.

The constitutional minister described it as “essential” that the law ultimately also be enforceable.

Compulsory vaccination is permissible

Minister Edtstadler also explained that compulsory vaccination is permissible under European law if certain conditions are met.

“The European Court of Justice says this quite clearly in its permanent case law,” Edtstadler stressed.

The constitutional minister clarified that, under the law, the goal must be clear–to protect public health and get out of the pandemic; the means must be an effective one–a vaccination that works; and the law must also be proportionate–there are no other means to end the pandemic.

“We checked all of this, everything is there, and it has been confirmed by constitutional experts,” she stated.

Edtstadler also said that it is not enough to simply create and enforce the law but that the government must show why it felt the need to implement such a measure.

She stated that even though nobody in the government originally wanted to implement mandatory vaccination, they have “the obligation and necessity to raise the vaccination quota in order to not go from lockdown to lockdown.”

Common solidarity to regain freedom

Well over one million Austrians are still not vaccinated, which Edtstadler explains is far too many.

“I would therefore like to say we now need the solidarity of everyone in this country so that we can overcome this great common challenge,” underscored Edtstadler.

She added that the government does not want to punish those who are not vaccinated. They want “to pick them up, to convince them of this vaccination, and to show solidarity with everyone so that we can regain our freedom.”

Edtstadler explained that the government does not see any other way out of this pandemic than vaccination.

The constitutional minister also commented on the issue of the inactivated vaccines, saying, “I know that many of you are waiting for the so-called dead vaccine. We hope that it will be approved in the near future before compulsory vaccination comes into force.”

The common enemy is the virus

Edtstadler once again appealed to the unvaccinated to find out more from experts and to seek discussion.

She also asked those who have been vaccinated to try to understand the fears that the unvaccinated have and to reach out to them and try to help assuage these fears.

In conclusion, the constitutional minister emphasized, “We have only one Austria. We are one society and we all want to enjoy our freedoms again together. There is one common enemy: the virus. Let us move forward together and live our freedoms again.”

Austrian Federal Chancellery