Austria’s vaccination plan against COVID-19 was off to a slow start, but has massively picked up speed since. In April and May, 2021, we firmly entered phase 3 of the vaccination plan, which foresees a rollout of vaccines among the general population.
If you live in Vienna, make sure to pre-register for your vaccination under impfservice.wien or call 1450.
You can also select a risk group that may apply to you. The city will progressively open up new vaccination appointments, according to risk and age. You will be informed via email or sms when you are eligible for an appointment, or you can also check the website regularly.
If you live in another federal state, you can select the registration page that is relevant for you on the website Österreich impft.
Important Facts About Vaccination in Austria
- Vaccination is free for everyone living in Austria.
- All vaccines used in Austria have been vetted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which granted them conditional approval for people aged 16+.
- Currently, four vaccines are approved in the EU:
- The vaccines developed by Biontech-Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (both based on mRNA technology).
- The vaccines developed by the Oxford University & AstraZeneca and by Johnson & Johnson / Langssen (based on vector adenovirus technology).
- The Johnson & Johnson / Langssen vaccine is administered in a one-shot regimen, all other vaccines are given in a two-shot regimen (with different waiting periods between the first and the second shot).
- Currently, four vaccines are approved in the EU:
- The vaccines have been tested and are considered as safe.
- The EMA also advises on potential after effects (headache, fever for a few days) and very rare side effects of the vaccination in its regular safety updates – if you have questions, make sure to check with your general practitioner (GP) or any other health professional.
- Vaccines in Austria will be administered by health professionals, at official vaccination sites, at doctor’s office or as part of a company vaccination plan.
- Austria gets its vaccine doses in regular installments as part of larger EU vaccine orders.
Essential Information About the Vaccines
- Here’s how the vaccines work and why we can trust them.
- If you’ve had a COVID-19 infection, here’s a doctor’s advice on why getting the vaccine is still a good idea.
- And here is more information on the development process and the technologies underpinning the vaccines and why they are safe.
What’s the Current Status?
The Austrian Health Ministry has set up a vaccination dashboard on which citizens can see the progress of the vaccination plan. It is available in both English and German.
As of May 4, more than a quarter of Austria’s resident population has received at least one vaccine shot – that’s over 2.3 million people, or 31.35% of the eligible population 16+.
More than a tenth of the population has been fully immunized so far – that’s over 860,000 people, or 11.49% of the eligible population.
Statistically, every 1.8 seconds a vaccine dose is being administered in Austria.
Immunization has progressed further for the older age groups, as these are the ones most at risk from COVID-19.
So far, 3.5 million vaccine doses have been delivered to Austria via the EU vaccine program.
Deliveries are expected to ramp up massively in the next weeks and months. Austria expects another 5.5 million vaccine doses in the remainder of Q2, 2021 (i.e. in May and June). In Q3, 2021 (i.e. July to September), an additional 12 million vaccine doses are expected.
Austria’s Health Ministry also provides an overview of deliveries that took place so far and planned deliveries for the next couple of weeks from different companies.
The vaccine dashboard also shows the vaccination status of Austria’s federal states (always as percentage of the eligible population).
Note that Vienna vaccinated a significant number of people working in the capital but living in Lower Austria, which explains part of the difference in vaccination rates. Tyrol got extra deliveries from a special EU allotment to fast-track vaccinations in the district of Schwaz and contain a virus mutation spreading there.
Other federal states ought to get the vaccine doses according to their resident population and are then responsible for vaccinating their population.
The dashboard also shows daily vaccination rates and average over 7 days.
In April, the average has been a bit shy of 50,000 vaccinations a day – that’s approximately 0.56% of the population. Austrian politicians have announced that the daily vaccination rate may rise to 100,000 vaccines administered on a day in the coming weeks and months – that would be akin to vaccinating 1.1% of the population in a day.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has promised that every resident of Austria who wants to get vaccinated will get a chance to do so “within the next 100 days.”
The government plans to open up the Austrian economy and society on May 19.
For visits of restaurants, bars, services, spas or gyms, the so-called “green pass” will be established. It should show whether one:
- has tested negative for the coronavirus recently,
- has had COVID-19 in the last 6 months,
- or has already received a vaccine shot (valid as “green pass” starting three weeks after getting the first vaccine shot, when a degree of immunity should be firmly established).
The “green pass” will initially be just the term for any document confirming on of these three things above, i.e. a vaccination card, a negative test certificate or a lab confirmation of an infection. Later, a digital system with a QR code should also be established and facilitate traveling.
Stay healthy and get vaccinated when you get a chance!
News from March 15
Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) updated the Austria vaccination plan on Monday, March 15, and submitted it to the federal states by decree.
The changes in the adapted vaccination plan in short:
- Elderly and high-risk patients will be given priority.
- The AstraZeneca vaccine will now also be used to vaccinate those over 65.
- And those who are confirmed to have had COVID-19 in the past will only get one vaccine jab for now, as recommended by health experts.
Over 65s First
In the now starting phase 2, the priority for people over age 65 and at-risk patients takes precedence over other groups, such as contact persons of pregnant women or staff at schools, daycare center, and child care facilities. Before, the plan was to vaccinate these groups in parallel. Now, the latter will only be given a chance for their vaccine shot after “all persons over age 65 have been offered vaccination in a timely manner.”
In addition, the restrictions on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine were removed. In mid-February, the National Immunization Panel (NIG) had recommended the use of the vaccine now also for people aged over 65.
Second Shot Delayed for Some
The decree also adjusted the vaccine regulation for those who have already had COVID-19. If the COVID-19 infection was confirmed by a laboratory, it is recommended that vaccination be deferred for 6-8 months and then, according to current knowledge, only one dose be administered. If laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection occurs between the first and second doses, the second dose should be deferred for 6-8 months.
Now a Binding Guideline
Anschober reiterated Monday that rapid vaccination of the increasing supply of vaccines in the coming months will be “crucial.”
Media outlets reported that more than 300,000 vaccine doses are currently waiting on shelves as of mid-March, compared to a bit over 1 million doses administered so far. This is about 23% of the total supply of vaccines that Austria received.
In order to speed up vaccinations, a new decree is to go to the federal states shortly. The national vaccination plan is a binding guideline for all places administering the vaccine in Austria. It gives instructions on the sequence of vaccinations up to the summer based on the promised delivery quantities and delivery dates. Health Minister Anschober last updated it in mid-February.
The new decrees* were deemed necessary both due to new information on the vaccine situation and due to increasing calls to unify Austrian vaccination efforts, whose details have been largely left to the federal states up to now. This may now be changing.
*A decree is an administrative order, in this case of the Minister of Health, to the subordinate organ administrators, in this case, the governors of federal states, who are bound by instructions of the responsible federal minister. By virtue of instructions, these contain a binding interpretation of laws or ordinances or also instructions as to the specific manner in which the execution of a law or ordinance is to be carried out.