SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

COVID-19 VACCINES

Who is exempt from Austria’s new vaccine mandate?

After lawmakers voted to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for people in Austria, here's a closer look at the small number of exceptions that apply.

Who is exempt from Austria's new vaccine mandate?
People queuing for their Covid-19 vaccines shortly after the vaccine mandate was first announced. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Most of the exemptions from the mandate are time-limited and are valid until the end of the month following the end of the reason for exemption.

For example, someone who turns 18 on June 7th would need to get their vaccine before the end of July; someone who gave birth on August 27th would have until the end of September to get vaccinated.

The mandate itself is currently set to apply until January 31st, 2024, but the law requires that the situation be monitored every three months to determine if it is still justified by the pandemic situation.

Here are the exemption categories explained.

Children

The vaccine mandate only applies for people aged over 18.

That’s even though vaccines are currently offered to children from the age of five in Austria.

An earlier draft of the bill would have begun the mandate from the age of 14, but this was tweaked.

Pregnant people

People who are pregnant are exempt from the vaccine mandate for the duration of their pregnancy.

People with medical proof of recent recovery from Covid-19

Anyone who has had a recent Covid-19 infection is exempt from the requirement to be vaccinated for 180 days after their positive test.

People in this category will need to have a medical certificate confirming their recovered status to show in the event of checks.

People with proof of a medical exemption from vaccination

The Ministry of Health has not yet published final details on which illnesses or conditions are sufficient for a medical exemption or how these should be proven.

It’s expected to be a short list, including for example people who have recently undergone an organ transplant and those with certain autoimmune diseases. But it may not be exactly the same as the current exemptions from showing proof of 2G.

Only a certain group of doctors will be allowed to issue exemption certificates (public health officers, epidemic doctors, or the patient’s doctor at a specialist outpatient clinic — in German the terms are Amtsärzte, Epidemieärzte and Spezialambulanzen), and it will not be possible to get these from a GP.

Tourists

Several readers of The Local have been in touch to ask if the vaccine mandate will apply to tourists or only people resident in the country. The answer is the latter; people resident in Austria will be required to get the vaccine. This includes non-Austrians, as long as you are a registered resident in Austria (ie. you have completed a Meldezettel, which is a requirement for anyone planning to stay in Austria for three months or more). This will also cover some people with second homes in Austria because if they have a residence (Wohnsitz) registered in Austria.

Tourists will be affected by two other sets of rules: the rules for entry and domestic rules around vaccine passes.

From January 24th, the so-called 2G+ rule will apply to travellers from all countries entering Austria, meaning they need either full vaccination or a recent recovery from the virus, as well as either a booster dose or a negative PCR test. There are a few cases in which travellers can follow slightly more lenient rules, including those travelling for urgent reasons and Austrian residents.

Meanwhile, separate rules govern which public places require proof of 2G (full vaccination or recent recovery). At the moment, that includes for example restaurants, cafes, hotels, museums, and large events, and this applies to both locals and tourists.

Member comments

  1. “Pregnant people”??

    Seriously, is The local going to provide information or push every leftist example of political correctness? Is The Local a forum for information or a place of not-so-subtle indoctrination? It is very sad. I have a little son; every honest person on Earth knows he will never be pregnant. I have a little daughter too. I hope she becomes a mother someday. These thoughts, these facts should not be controversial.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19 ALERT

EXPLAINED: How Austria’s compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

The much-debated policy sparked controversy since before it was approved in February, meaning that May could be a definitive month in the country.

EXPLAINED: How Austria's compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

Austria’s Federal Government has a ticking time bomb on its hands: an ordinance that suspended its vaccine mandate law is set to expire by the end of May, which means that the controversial mandatory vaccination would be again in place as early as June 1st.

In order to keep that from happening, Austria’s Health Ministry needs to extend the current regulation or create a new one.

If it doesn’t, the Covid-19 mandatory vaccination law would automatically be back in June.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s plans to bring back the vaccine mandate?

Since, by June, the vaccine mandate stated that non-vaccinated would start getting fines, the resumption of the law would mean that, from next month, those who are not vaccinated could be fined in routine checks, such as traffic checks.

The ins and outs of the vaccine mandate

The law was first introduced in February, even though the technical requirements for it to be enacted were not in place. The first stage of it was purely “informational”, and Austrian residents received letters explaining about vaccines and about the regulation.

A second stage, when people could have been fined if they were not vaccinated, was set to start in mid-March. Before a single person was fined, though, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) suspended the law with an ordinance.

The law was suspended for a variety of reasons, primarily due to the relatively high vaccination coverage the country had already received, along with the lower virulence of the Omicron variant. 

READ ALSO: Austria to scrap mandatory Covid vaccinations

To create a new regulation or extend the existing one stopping people from being fined, Rauch must await the report of the vaccination commission, which should be ready in May, according to the Ministry.

The coronavirus commission will assess whether the Vaccination Act is suitable and useful from a medical and legal point of view. A previous report said there were arguments for and against mandatory vaccination for those who were completely unvaccinated.

READ ALSO: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

Der Standard reports there is little political support for compulsory vaccination and says there are still technical problems regarding automated fines. However, according to the Ministry of Health, the infrastructure should be completed in June.

SHOW COMMENTS