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Austria becomes 1st EU country to make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory

Austria has become the first EU country to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory after the parliament approved the mandate on Thursday.

Majority of the Austrian parliament voted in favor of the bill despite opposition from the far-right Freedom Party.

The mandate "paves the way to totalitarianism in Austria," Freedom Party leader Herbert Kickl said.

Government speakers criticized Kickl's statements, accusing him of "dividing the society".

Mandatory vaccination starts from February

Compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 in the Alpine state will start from February.

Population aged under 18, pregnant women and those with medical conditions will be exempt from the mandate.

In the first phase, relevant ministries will inform people about the obligatory vaccination until March 15.

From March 16, police will start checking people's vaccination status during routine controls.

Those who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot will face fines between €600-€3600 ($680-$4,000).

Some 72% of the Austrian population have been fully vaccinated so far.

The country of 9 million has recorded over 1.5 million coronavirus cases since the first case was reported in March 2020. Nearly 14,000 people have died due to the coronavirus.


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