Austria scraps COVID vaccine mandate, says it split society

BERLIN (AP) — Austria’s health minister says the country is scrapping a dormant coronavirus vaccine mandate, saying the measure risked polarizing society and could even lead to fewer people getting the shot. The government announced plans last year requiring all aged 18 and over to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It was the first country in Europe to do so. The law took effect in February but lawmakers suspended the mandate before police were due to enforce it in mid-March. Health Minister Johannes Rauch said the rise of new virus variants had changed citizens’ perception of the effectiveness and necessity of a vaccination. He said this could deter them from voluntarily getting booster shots that will help curb the outbreak in the fall.

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