Austria dropped its dormant COVID-19 vaccine mandate after just four months, deeming it “no longer medically or constitutionally necessary” despite rising infections.
Health Minister Johannes Rauch said on Thursday that new variants of the coronavirus had changed people’s perception of the effectiveness and necessity of vaccination.
In February, the country became the first in Europe to make COVID-19 shots compulsory for all people over the age of 18.
But the warrant was quickly suspended by lawmakers before police were due to enforce the measure in March.
“We now have to live with covid, so we will put in place a series of new measures,” Rauch told a press conference in Vienna.
“Even those who had agreed to be vaccinated are now reluctant to receive a new dose.”
The minister added that the mandate was introduced “in a different context” at a time when hospital services were on the verge of collapsing due to overcrowding but were no longer justified by the current situation.
Rauch also said inflation and high energy prices, as well as fears surrounding war in Ukraine, have contributed to tensions in society.
Currently, it is estimated that 62% of the population of the Alpine country has a valid vaccination certificate. The country has recorded more than 18,700 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.