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Austria approves Europe’s first vaccine mandate for all adults

Austria approved Europe’s first coronavirus vaccine mandate for all adults on Thursday as massive protests were held against the move.

In a 137-33 vote, Austria’s parliament approved a measure that would require all adult citizens to be vaccinated by Feb. 1, The Associated Press reported.

The first step of the measure is for authorities to send letters to each household to inform them of the mandate.

Starting in March, police will ask individuals during routine checks to prove they are vaccinated. If they can’t prove or won’t attest in writing they are vaccinated, the person will be fined $685.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer said if the vaccination rate is still too low, reminders will be sent to the unvaccinated and mandatory vaccination appointments will be made for them. If a person misses it and remains unvaccinated, they could face more than $4,000 in fines.

Currently, 73 percent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated.

The only exceptions to the mandate are those who had COVID-19 in the last six months, those who are medically exempt and pregnant women, according to the AP.

Some lawmakers originally wanted the new law to require those as young as 14 to get the vaccine, but a  compromise was reached to only have it apply to adults.

Lawmakers also announced $1.59 billion will be allocated to encourage vaccinations, such as making a vaccine lottery and rewarding towns with high vaccination rates, the AP noted.

The official vote to pass the mandate comes after thousands of citizens have been protesting for weeks against the move.

Austria is the first country to require the vaccine for everyone above the age of 18 regardless of their job. Other countries have required certain industries to be vaccinated, but not a universal mandate.

Tags austria coronavirus vaccine mandate

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