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Austria signs law on mandatory COVID jabs in EU first

VIENNA (AFP) – Austria’s president yesterday signed a law making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all adults, a first in the European Union (EU).

It applies to all adults, except pregnant women and those with a medical exemption. Those holding out can face fines of up to EUR3,600 (USD4,100) after mid-March following an “introductory phase”.

President Alexander Van der Bellen signed the law after parliament approved it, his office said. It was published in the official gazette and will come into force today.

Tens of thousands have demonstrated against mandatory vaccination in regular weekend rallies across the country since the measure was announced in November.

But it has broad political support – with all parties except the far-right rallying behind it – in a bid to drive up the country’s vaccination rate.

Currently, 69 per cent of Austrian residents have certificates that they are fully protected against the coronavirus – including a booster for those whose shots were more than six months ago.

A vaccaintion pass is signed and stamped in Vienna. PHOTO: AP