Austrian health authorities revealed the details of the three-stage plan at a press conference in late November.
At the end of December, federal authorities gave an overview of how the plan is likely to work – and who will be vaccinated first.
The first vaccinations were administered in Austria on December 27th, with an 84-year-old woman in Vienna being the first to get vaccinated.
The mass vaccinations will then come in three waves from January.
In November, Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said that the scheme has an ultimate goal of vaccinating “well over 50 percent” of the population by the end of summer 2021. In December, this figure was upgraded to 80 percent.
The reason that the vaccine is to be delivered in phases is due to difficulties acquiring the necessary doses, along with a desire to protect the most vulnerable while allowing the economy to gradually reopen.
Kurier reports that the three phases will see 16.5 million doses made available to Austrians. In total, Austria is set to receive 24 million doses pursuant to deals negotiated by the European Union.
Anschober reiterated the government's promise that the vaccine would at all times remain voluntary.
Phase one, which is set to kick off in January of 2021, will target people over the age of 65, “especially those in retirement and old age homes”.
Kurier reports that these vaccinations are likely to begin on January 12th.
“We expect a first partial delivery this week (December 28th) after the first pre-delivery. On January 12th, people in retirement and nursing homes nationwide are to receive the option to be vaccinated.”
Phase one will also see staff in nursing homes vaccinated.
With one million doses of the vaccine likely to be available, this phase will see 500,000 people vaccinated – as each person needs to receive the vaccine twice.
Each dose will need to be given at least 21 days apart.
Phase two will see health workers and people in other vulnerable categories vaccinated.
It is expected to start in February of 2021.
Other people in so-called “systemically relevant” professions will also be vaccinated as part of this phase.
Der Standard reports this includes police officers, employees in the food industry, transport companies and others, as well as teachers and employees of kindergartens and schools.
Kurier reports that vaccinations will take place in doctor's offices from February, provided the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved at this point.
The reason is that the AstraZeneca vaccine does not need to be stored in especially cold freezers – and therefore does not need to be administered in vaccination centres.
Starting in April, phase three will see the vaccine available to the general public.
This will include those who are already sick with Covid-19.
State and local governments are crucial in this phase as they will be required to help set up the infrastructure to deliver the vaccines.
The federal government will be responsible for logistics and for cooperating with pharmaceutical wholesalers, Der Standard reports.