Another Country Makes it a Crime Not to Have a COVID-19 Vaccine

by Sonia Hickey
COVID vaccine

Austria has officially made vaccinations mandatory for its adult population. The controversial law was passed in the country’s parliament last month. It takes effect from next month, after which anyone who refuses to be vaccinated faces a criminal record and a fine of up to 3,600 euros (about A$5,500). 

The only exceptions are pregnant women and those who have a medical exemption. 

The country joins Ecuador, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Micronesia in making it a crime not to have a Covid-19 vaccination.

A ‘parliamentary democracy’

To date, there have been about 14,000 Covid-related deaths and 1.5 million cases in the country which has a total population of about 9 million. Austria describes itself a parliamentary democracy, and on the Government’s website this is defined as meaning:

“…That everyone should be able to voice their opinion and defend their interests in a spirit of mutual respect. In Parliament this is done by the different parties, the rules governing legislation and parliamentary control.

If decisions were only left to the majority, democracy would be in danger of being reduced to voting. In this case only those who know how to win a majority for themselves would be able to safeguard their interests.”

But there are thousands of Austrians who oppose the new laws and who have been taking to the streets in protest. The Government has also introduced a lottery to ‘incentivise’ anyone wavering in their decision making or lagging in their efforts to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The prizes are vouchers worth 500 euro (about $750) to spend on recreational activities such as sporting events, restaurants, hotels, and shopping. 

Paving the way to totalitarianism

About 72% of Austria’s population is already vaccinated. The country is in the middle of an outbreak (as are most countries right now, including those with high vaccination rates), recording its highest ever case numbers last week. 

Those who have still not had the jab and are opposed to mandatory vaccinations have expressed concerns that laws are not democratic and ignore ‘basic fundamental rights’. Others have expressed concerns about any potential long-term effect of vaccines which have not yet been fully researched and documented.  

The laws are the toughest yet in Europe. 

Apathy and the ‘boiling frog’ 

The world looked on in astonishment when France introduced draconian vaccination mandates last year, refusing entry to shops and cafes, cinemas, restaurants, sports arenas  and other venues for people who aren’t vaccinated, threatening those who broke the rules with fines of $10,000 eros and a prison term. The streets erupted in violent protest, yet the laws passed. Businesses have been suffering as a result. 

Many Australians too, have been guilty of looking at the experience of other countries and thinking, “that won’t happen here,” and yet it has, in various forms. We’ve had lockdowns and lockouts, ‘no jab, no job’ mandates, inter-state border closures, travel restrictions, curfews and very heavy-handed law enforcement. 

The economy has been decimated. Mental health problems are on the rise. 

There has, and continues to be, much condemnation of anyone who has protested against mandated health policies, or Government ‘coercion’, strict laws and extensive government powers in the past 18 months. 

There is deep social division and a lot of criticism hurled at those people who choose not to be vaccinated, with a narrative that continually perpetuates “anti-vaxxers” as “covid-deniers” which isn’t necessarily always the case, but which does provide a convenient way to shrug off any in-depth consideration for the over-reach of some of these ‘pandemic management’ tactics and the resulting slow erosion of human rights. 

Health or Government control? 

It’s incredulous to believe that democratic governments around the world, including our own, are taking such an authoritarian stance, particularly with regard to vaccines, and are by comparison, putting much less emphasis on or investment in treatments and cures for Covid-19. 

At some point, when the basic tenets of democracy are so seriously threatened, the question has to be asked whether or not the introduction of these laws is founded on a desire to swiftly and effectively manage a health crisis, or if they are about increasing Government power and control, under the guise of “for the greater good.”  

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Author

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Autumn 2021.

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