This Is How Austria Plans to Roll Out Vaccinations

Austria’s CoV vaccination campaign is picking up speed. The federal government will provide the vaccine, while the federal states organize the distribution. Here is how it works.

According to the Ministry of Health, around 53,000 people have been vaccinated across Austria as of January 12 (that’s 0.6% of the population). On the same day, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) expressed confidence that the Federal States (Bundesländer) would complete the first round of vaccination in all retirement and nursing homes by the end of January. They will be first in line. Then, ideally, the process will continue according to age groups and levels of risk. The order of priorities in which vaccinations are given applies in all of Austria and was defined by the Ministry of Health. Nursing and health care staff, for example, have priority together with the elderly. Vaccinations are voluntary in all cases.

In all federal states, vaccination is currently underway in old people’s homes and nursing homes, as well as for particularly exposed healthcare personnel.

Caveat on Estimates

All estimates, including those of the authorities, are provisional. They depend on the amount of vaccine serum available, the willingness to vaccinate and the necessary personnel.

Vienna Presses Ahead

The City of Vienna, which has already been comparatively fast with vaccinations in nursing and old age homes, announced the launch of a large vaccination drive this weekend (Jan. 15-17). General practitioners (GPs) and their staffs will be vaccinated at the Messe Wien in 14 “vaccination streets” (Impfstraßen). The vaccination of staff in Vienna’s hospitals has already begun. In the AKH alone, up to 700 employees are vaccinated per day.

Starting next Monday, January 18, registration will be possible online from 10:00 on, although preregistration is already being accepted by the Impfservice Wien (Tel: 01 1450). As soon as vaccination dates are available, those registered will be informed. Vienna plans to start vaccinating residents aged 80 years or older who do not live in retirement homes at the latest starting in mid-February, on “vaccination streets” and other sites, as was recently also the case for Vienna’s flu vaccination campaign.

The City of Vienna plans to have fully immunized at least 131,000 Viennese (11% of the population aged 16 and over) with both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the first quarter, according to Mayor Michael Ludwig and City Health Councilor Peter Hacker (both SPÖ) on Tuesday. The calculations are based on the doses of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine currently promised by the federal government.

Carinthian Government Sees Change in Thinking

Vaccinations outside nursing homes and COVID-19 wards begin this weekend also in Carinthia, which notoriously did not use any of its initial 6,000 vaccine doses in the first two weeks. People over 80 can get vaccinated at eight service points run by the health insurance fund. The state government sees a “change in the population’s thinking” and a greater willingness to receive the vaccination. By the end of March, 40,000 people in Austria’s southernmost state will have been vaccinated, the state government said.

Separate Pre-Registration System in Burgenland

The Burgenland state government also presented its vaccination strategy on Tuesday, January 12. The plan, in accordance with the Ministry of Health, is to rapidly vaccinate the high-risk groups and employees in the health-care sector. A separate pre-registration system for all citizens is also planned, with details to be presented next week.

Registration in Upper Austria Starting this Friday

In Upper Austria, registration of people aged 80+ will also start on Friday, January 15 – online and by phone. By end of January, the state plans to have carried out 48,000 vaccinations. There will be at least one vaccination site in each district (Bezirk), set up by each local authority.

Salzburg to Expand Offer at the Beginning of February

In early February, Salzburg plans to begin vaccinating people over 80 who live at home. Currently, vaccination of nursing home residents and health care workers who are particularly exposed. By the end of March, Salzburg aims to have vaccinated all priority one persons (those over 80, high-risk healthcare personnel), around 30,000 people in all.

Rush in Styria

Styria has ordered some 26,000 vaccine doses, the most of any federal states so far, with several groups registering a need for early vaccination. The state’s vaccination coordinator, Michael Koren, is not yet willing to announce when those over 80 who live at home can be vaccinated – that depends on the availability of the vaccine. However, he emphasized that priority will be given based on need: It should not be the case that those who call first get the vaccination fast while others wait for weeks. Koren plans to announce the next steps once the delivery schedule becomes clearer.

Registration Starting on Monday in Vorarlberg

In Vorarlberg, vaccinations are currently still underway in nursing homes, and hospital staff have begun receiving the vaccine since Friday. Over the weekend, vaccinations also became available for general practitioners (GPs) and their staffs in private practices. On Monday, January 19, a special online platform will be launched to register for vaccination.

Registration in E-Vaccination Passport Settled

Finally, the mechanics and financing has been settled for the registration of vaccinated persons and the costs for the e-vaccination passport software, as well as the fee for GPs who vaccinate. The federal government will bear the costs for the e-vaccination passport software, which family physicians must install in their doctor’s office. If this is not possible yet, registration can also be done via the e-card system.

The recording of all vaccinations is crucial in order to maintain an Austria-wide overview and thus to know how far the population is already protected against the pandemic. Doctors will receive €25 per vaccination. If they are on vaccination duty in a nursing home, they will receive a fixed hourly fee of €150.

Pharmacists Warn Against Vaccines Offered on the Internet

Meanwhile, the chamber of pharmacists warned of online offers of the CoV vaccine. These are, without exception, fakes – as the first approved vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius and the cold chain would be interrupted when ordering on the web.

Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin studied Journalism, History and International Affairs. After stints with Cafébabel in Paris and Arte in Strasbourg, he is now working as managing editor and COO for Metropole in Vienna. Fields of expertise are politics, economics, culture, and history. Photo: Visual Hub

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