A medical worker prepares a dose of the coronavirus vaccine

Austria's vaccine mandate changes the rules for the rest of the world

Opinion: Europe's brutal COVID-19 morbidity wave is making its leaders take some drastic measures as more countries are expected to follow Vienna's suit, and don't you think this is going to skip over us

Sever Plocker |
Published: 11.21.21, 23:54
No matter how you feel about Austria's decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its entire adult population, it is highly unlikely this absolute game-changer in the battle against the pandemic won't make its way to Israel's shores eventually.
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  • The definition of "fully vaccinated" has changed over the past year. Now, only those who had received a booster shot or have recovered from the pathogen and then received two vaccine doses are entitled to this classification.
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    קורונה גרמניה חיסון שטוטגארט
    קורונה גרמניה חיסון שטוטגארט
    A medical worker prepares a dose of the coronavirus vaccine
    (Photo: AFP)
    With that in mind, a 70%–80% vaccination rate among those over the age of 16 is imperative if we wish to completely beat back the virus.
    While Austria is one of the first nations to implement such extreme measures, Israel has already pretty much adopted a similar policy when it conditioned the Green Pass on receiving the booster shot.
    However, lax policing of the policy is making Israelis more and more indifferent to the lifesaving jab.
    Only 43% of the population and 60% of those over the age of 16 had so far received their third shot.
    This means that there are still over 2.5 million Israelis who are at risk of catching COVID, becoming severely ill and dying.
    As for younger age groups, the original two-dose regimen is still enough, considering the short time span that passed since the vaccine was approved for adolescents, but scientists that here too, vaccine protection will wane and make booster shots for children all but inevitable.
    Judging by the rising morbidity of the past two weeks, it seems like our leaders in Jerusalem have been resting on their laurels after bringing the infection rate down to under 0.6% and the virus' reproductive number — which gauges how many people a single patient infects — to 0.7.
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    ילדים מתחסנים בארה"ב
    ילדים מתחסנים בארה"ב
    A child in the U.S. receives his coronavirus vaccine
    (Photo: AFP)
    But instead of piling more pressure on those still hesitating to get the booster, let alone getting the first two shots, the state opted for a more PR-orientated course of action: ditch the stick and try to persuade the public only with soft and hearty words.
    The best and brightest of the country's medical minds hit the nation's TV channels and radio stations, explaining the vaccine's advantages in very fine detail, dispelling rumors and debunking lies — but always sealed their remarks by saying that it is every person's right to choose whether to get themselves and their children vaccinated.
    But is it now? Just as drivers cannot choose to drive without a seatbelt or sit their children in protective car seats, no citizen should be given the option to get infected, expose their children to infection, spread it to others and keep this cruel cycle of economic, social and health turmoil of the past two years going.
    As stated above, only about 40% of Israelis have had their booster shot so far. While it may seem relatively low, Israel still boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with Chile alone nearing such figures.
    In the UAE, just 29% of the population had received a booster shot, 20% in the UK, 10% in Austria and the U.S., 7.2% in France, 7% in Spain, 6% in Italy, 5.7% in Germany, 2% in Russia and just 5.3% throughout the entire EU.
    It is no surprise that with such meager booster vaccination rates, many of these countries are experiencing renewed and fierce outbreaks.
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    נפתלי בנט וניצן הורוביץ
    נפתלי בנט וניצן הורוביץ
    Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: GPO)
    Many health officials around the world now realize their lapse of judgment in not approving the third shot months ago when encouraging data from Israel about the shot's efficacy started flowing in.
    Barring a magic solution, it is probable that more and more countries will turn to the Austrian model: mandatory vaccination to the entire adult population.
    Democracies have grown tired of paying an endless social, health and economic toll they are forced to pay because of an irrational minority that denied the scientific facts and their moral duty to others.
    Democracy is based on a social contract, but this contract lapses when people choose to exercise their inalienable right to spread the virus for selfish reasons.
    This is like sanctioning anarchy, after which "the savior" may come in the form of fascism.
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