Constitutional Minister Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP) and Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) had invited to the Chancellery again, but both members of the government were missing two doorsteps before the talks. A total of three rounds with different representatives took place in the afternoon.
The prelude was made by representatives from the health and care sector. Subsequently, together with the Minister of Education and Youth, Susanne Raab (ÖVP), all religious communities recognized in Austria were invited to contribute their views on this topic. The opinion of youth, schoolchildren, student and pensioner representatives was also asked. All participants agreed across the board that a higher vaccination rate is needed in Austria.
Lackner: “There is no alternative to vaccination”
Franz Lackner, Archbishop of Salzburg and Chairman of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, did not speak of a compulsory vaccination. However, the Catholic Church entered the dispute and emphasized “how important this is for the common good of all people in the country”. “We say, please get vaccinated, there is no alternative to vaccination,” Lackner said before talking to other religious representatives and ministers.
The churches and religious communities were expressly “not expected to advocate compulsory vaccinations – but that we advocate how important this is from the point of view of the common good,” said Lackner.
Medical Association expects vaccinations to be compulsory from February
The medical association spoke out in favor of compulsory vaccination weeks ago. In particular in the care sector and in hospitals, he would like to see the vaccination mandatory from now on, said Medical Association President Thomas Szekeres before the talks. However, he reckons that this will come at the same time as the general obligation in February, as there are “lead times”. “However, I would like to see all of us vaccinated earlier,” said the President of the Medical Association. As early as December, the number of people vaccinated, the first, second and third stitches, should increase. On Friday, more than six million people in Austria had a valid vaccination certificate. Szekeres spoke out in favor of “we step on the gas within the next two weeks”. Doctors in private practice play a major role here.
How the compulsory vaccination will be legally structured is largely still open. It is intended for people aged 14 and over. Szekeres can “understand this age very well”, although it “makes medical sense that one also vaccinates children from the age of five”, after all, the corona vaccination is already approved for them.
Over the weekend, the draft law is to be finalized in the Ministry of Health and will be subject to an assessment of at least four weeks in the coming week.
Administrative roads in the event of violations
Administrative penalties are provided for violations of the obligation to vaccinate. “Punishments are justified without restriction, the amount of punishment should be staggered socially,” demanded Szekeres. The penalty range should go up to 3,600 euros.
That was “relatively high,” said Ingrid Korosec, President of the ÖVP Senior Citizens Association. She still sees a need for improvement here.
In the afternoon, Naima Gobora, the deputy union chairwoman, also spoke out in favor of social staggering. Because it cannot be that the punishment represents a hurdle for some and “can be accepted for others because it can be afforded,” she said. Gobora emphasized that the youth in particular have shown solidarity. “We also expect solidarity from the rest of the population,” demanded the student representative. Only with a higher vaccination rate can you get closer to a normal life as possible. Gobora also advocated that the focus should be placed on the consequences of the pandemic for young people – both and psychologically.
Compulsory vaccination for senior representatives “essential”
Senior representative Korosec considers the compulsory vaccination to be “very important”. Because older people in particular often have previous illnesses and are more at risk. At the round table, SPÖ pensioners association president Peter Kostelka called for mandatory vaccinations from the beginning of 2022. According to Kostelka, an “accompanying motivation campaign” for mandatory vaccination is also urgently needed.
(Source: APA / SALZBURG24)