How does Austria’s vaccine mandate compare to other countries?

Austria on Thursday became the first EU country to issue a vaccine mandate to all adults, but other countries in the bloc are also requiring the jab for certain age groups or professions, and further afield general mandates have been introduced.

Vaccine passes Ecuador
Vaccine passes are checked in Ecuador, one of few other countries to make Covid vaccination mandatory for all adults. Photo: Cristina Vega Rhor/AFP

Within Europe, Austria is an outlier, although a majority of EU countries use a vaccine pass or health pass to restrict the non-vaccinated from entry into venues such as restaurants, concerts and even shops.

These schemes have different names across Europe, but vary between health passes which allow holders to show a negative test result to gain entry and vaccine passes for which only vaccination proof (and in some cases proof of recent recovery from the virus) is valid.

Vaccine passes

In Italy, a vaccine pass is required to access hotels, restaurants, gyms and even public transport, with no option to take a test instead. From Monday January 24th France will require proof of vaccination or recovery for long-distance travel and access to restaurants, cafes, museums, cinemas and sports venues. Switzerland requires vaccine passes for indoor events, restaurants and cultural venues.

Similar passes are used in other countries outside Europe too, for example in Israel, Morocco, South Africa and several parts of Brazil.

Mandates by profession

Vaccine mandates for members of some professions exist or are planned in a few European countries, with Italy, Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and the UK requiring healthcare workers to get the jab, and some of those countries extending the mandate to other professions too. 

In Austria’s neighbour Hungary, all public sector workers are covered by a vaccine mandate and private companies have the option to require the vaccine. Latvia requires MPs to get the vaccine, and private employers can also dismiss workers who refuse to get vaccinated. And Poland is expected to pass a mandate for healthcare workers, teachers and the police.

The Czech Republic scrapped its own plans to require the jab for healthcare workers, with the government saying it did not want to exacerbate divisions.

Mandates by age

Some other countries have made Covid-19 vaccination compulsory only for certain age groups, focusing on the elderly who are more vulnerable to serious illness from the virus.

That includes Italy, which in January made the vaccine compulsory for over-50s and the penalty is a €100 fine, described by the ministry as a “one-off”. It was already compulsory for several professions including healthcare staff, police, teachers and emergency services workers.

Greece has set the age limit for compulsory jabs higher at 60, and since January has begun fining those in this age group who are unvaccinated, with €100 fines that can be issued monthly (adding up to a potential €12,000 per year). The government has also said it is considering extending the mandate to all over-50s.

That makes the fines in these countries significantly lower than those in Austria, where people who refuse to get the vaccine face fines of €600 which can be issued up to four times a year to a total of €24,000, but which could rise to €3,600 at a time if they refuse to pay the initial fine. The government has said people’s personal financial situation will be taken into account in setting the fine, and no fines will be issued until mid-March.

The Czech Republic had also planned to require vaccinations by law for over-60s, but this was overturned in January.

As with vaccine passes, vaccine mandates limited by age or profession are also in force in several countries outside Europe, though mandates linked to occupation are significantly more widespread than those linked to age, usually focusing on healthcare workers and state employees.

General mandates

Austria is unique within the EU in making the vaccine mandatory for all adults, though the Vatican City has mandated the jab for all its employees and visitors to Vatican museums.

And Austria may soon be joined by Germany, with politicians set to vote on making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory in March. It is possible that if passed, the bill may be modified to apply only to older residents.

Further afield, a small number of countries have brought in general vaccine mandates for the whole adult population, like Austria.

Those include Ecuador, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, French territory New Caledonia and Micronesia.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list, but an overview of the situation. All information was correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication.

Member comments

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


What to know about Austria’s new advice on Covid vaccines

As the coronavirus pandemic progressed, each country developed its own vaccination recommendation, which often changed. Here is the new advice from the Austrian vaccination panel.

What to know about Austria's new advice on Covid vaccines

The Austrian National Vaccination Panel has updated its recommendations on Covid vaccination on several points, the Ministry of Health announced.

“Special attention continues to be paid to the completion of the basic immunisation, which is recommended for all persons five years of age and older, and to the booster vaccination,” according to the Ministry of Health.

The booster shot is generally available to all persons 12 years of age and older and is free of charge, but it is especially recommended for persons 60 years of age and older and those at risk.

READ ALSO: Masks against Covid and flu: What’s ahead for Austria this winter

In Austria, the basic immunisation against Covid-19 consists of three vaccine doses. A fourth dose, also known as a booster shot, is also recommended.

What is new in the recommendation?

Austria is adding a new coronavirus vaccine, from Sanofi (VidPrevtyn Beta), to the list of offers against the virus. The new vaccine is protein-based and has already been approved by the European authorities. 

In Austria, the Sanofi vaccine can be used from the third vaccination onwards on people older than 18. The offer will be available at the vaccination sites in the coming week at the earliest, according to the Ministry. 

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

Another change is that the variant Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 from BioNTech/Pfizer will also be used for the third vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years. 

This vaccine is specially adapted to the virus variants Omicron BA.4 and 5. It is now available for children in a special application shot that should be in vaccination sites starting next week at the earliest. 

READ ALSO: What to expect from the ski season in Austria this winter

Also included in the recommendations is a clarification specifically on an additional booster vaccination (fifth vaccination). 

People at risk from the age of 18, and those from the age of 60 can receive the additional booster vaccination four months after the fourth vaccination. According to the vaccination panel, no fifth vaccination is necessary for healthy people under 60.