Comment: The compulsory vaccination comes head on in Austria


Status: 19.11.2021 6:20 p.m.

For a long time the word vaccination was politically taboo for the federal government in Vienna. So now the edition in Austria comes after all – flanked by a lockdown. But it’s way too late.

A comment by Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD Studio Vienna

Austria shows the way, not entirely voluntarily, but then it does: The Alpine republic is the first country in the European Union that wants to make a corona vaccination mandatory by law: well prepared, as watertight as possible, from February next year. Parliament has passed a compulsory vaccination that does not come through the back door, but frontal.

Wolfgang Vichtl
ARD studio Vienna

There are also many stubborn people in the parliament and even those who refuse to be vaccinated. That simply applies to everyone. We’ll leave the discussion about the justified exceptions stuck as typically German. Those who persist in refusing will be punished. How hard is still to be clarified.

Complaints are pointless

Constitutional concerns? Can you forget, says one of the leading constitutional lawyers at the University of Vienna – who also specializes in medical law as a minor. On the contrary: As soon as someone puts others in danger because they do not want to be vaccinated, a vaccination is constitutionally required, says the lawyer. Translated, this means: There is no other way. Even if the word “compulsory vaccination” was politically taboo in Vienna up to now. Constitutional Complaints? Welcome, but pointless, that is the message. This clarity is not only desired in Austria.

And until that happens, there will first be a hard lockdown. This time for everyone, whether vaccinated, recovered or unvaccinated. Until mid-December, in the hope of a pacified Christmas – or rather: of a reasonably lucrative Christmas business, at least in the final spurt. And then some want to use the ski lift to get back on the slopes.

Angry cry for help

The problem with this is that this hard lockdown is sorely needed, but it comes too late. Too many have been infected with Corona in the past few weeks, too many will get sick, some will die in the overcrowded intensive care units in the republic. Why did the angry cries for help from the Salzburg doctors, the triage team in the Salzburg state clinics, have to make a decision between life and death when it – and it will come – gets worse in the next few weeks?

Who is responsible? The experts? They verifiably warned. Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein von den Grünen, who was previously a family doctor, is late, but got nervous last week – and already announced the lockdown, which the new Chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP), did not want to see. The result was a government crisis.

And one wonders why? Because the new Chancellor wants to spare the old one who happily declared the “end of the pandemic” in the summer and sold it as his success? The fact that this was fake news, admittedly in retrospect, naturally disturbs Sebastian Kurz’s rather desperate comeback attempts.

Some governors rushed forward

But there were also some stubborn provincial governors, these are the Prime Ministers in Austria. With seven-day incidences shooting towards 2000, some rushed forward out of sheer necessity. Others did not want to annoy vaccinated people with a lockdown for everyone. A patchwork quilt that people saw as sheer chaos, not what they wanted in responsible leadership in times of crisis. “Sorry,” said Health Minister Mückstein at least. The others were rather subdued, too subdued.

Editor’s note

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