While Austria makes jabs mandatory, Slovakia, Poland take different roadReading Time: < 1 minutes
Adults in Austria will have to obtain COVID:19 jabs as of next month under measures MPs passed by 137 to 33 votes on Friday. This will be the first such national mandate in the European Union. In light of today’s vote, those who are not vaccinated in Austria – which has a 70% inoculation rate – could be fined up to EUR 3,600 by mid-March.
Austria’s centre-right Chancellor Karl Nehammer called vaccination “an opportunity for our society to achieve lasting and continuous freedom, because the virus cannot restrict us any further”. Some right-wing MPs slammed the “totalitarian” measure, however.
Central and Eastern European countries region are increasingly varied in their approaches to limit the spread of COVID-19. In Slovakia – where getting jabbed has become highly politicised – the government has abandoned plans for mandatory inoculations, as 48% of the population is vaccinated while the other half are often sceptics, and Coronavirus disinformation abounds.
Faced with lax government measures but a daily infection rate of over 30,000, some Polish businesses have imposed restrictions unilaterally, only admitting vaccinated customers. Meanwhile 13 of Poland’s 17 prime ministerial medical advisers have resigned in protest at the Polish government’s lenient COVID:19 policies. Konstanty Szuldrzynski, one of the physicians who resigned, told Reuters that nationalist conservative ruling party PiS “isn’t taking action (not due) to bad intentions, but a lack of political support from its base”, he said.
Poland hit an all-time high of 36,665 infections in 24 hours on Friday. More than 103,000 people with COVID:19 have died since COVID:19 first reached Poland.