‘The road back to normality’: Austria to unveil coronavirus vaccination plan

Austria will unveil a comprehensive vaccination plan on Wednesday, with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz saying it will put Austria “on the road back to normality”

'The road back to normality': Austria to unveil coronavirus vaccination plan
Austria will start vaccinations in the first week of January 2021. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

With three vaccinations for coronavirus now in the final stages of approval, countries all around the world are in the process of structuring their vaccination plans. 

Austria will release its comprehensive plan on Wednesday, November 25th. 

READ: When will the coronavirus vaccine be available in Austria? 

Under the European Union's vaccination plan, 24 million doses will be made available in Austria. 

According to Austria’s Health Minister Rudolf Anschober, the process is likely to start in early January. 

““We will have a few hundred thousand doses in January. The corresponding logistics are in preparation. The (vaccine’s) market approval decides on the actual start,” he said. 

Anschober told Der Standard he expected hundreds of thousands of vaccinations to be carried out in January “unless something unbelievable goes wrong”. 

The vaccination strategy and logistics are “de facto finished”, Anschober said

How will it work? 

According to reports in Austrian media, the stations which are being set up to carry out the country’s mass testing scheme will be retained and used for vaccinations. 

EXPLAINED: How Austria's mass-testing plan will work 

In early December, Austria will begin a mass-testing plan to isolate clusters of the virus in the population, mirroring a similar scheme adopted in neighbouring Slovakia earlier in the year. 

Teachers and police officers will be tested in the first phase of the mass-testing scheme, with seven million tests expected to be carried out across the country. 

Who will be vaccinated first? 

Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said people in risk groups would be vaccinated first, followed by health workers. 

“It is clear that the main risk groups have priority. In a second step, the employees of the health system should then be able to be vaccinated,” said Anschober in an interview with Kurier on Saturday.

Earlier in November, Anschober said people with serious medical conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus as well as people over the age of 70 would be prioritised. 

The vaccine would then be made available to the broader public, Anschober said.

“I assume that the other interested population can then be vaccinated gradually from the second quarter onwards,” he said. 

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EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

Austria's capital city Vienna has begun registration appointments for those who want to get a monkeypox vaccine. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

As of September 9th, people can make reservations for monkeypox vaccination in Vienna, authorities announced. It is possible to register for the vaccine using the health service line by calling 1450 or via the Impfservice website.

The City of Vienna has said the pre-registration is needed because all planning will be done through a central system due to a shortage of vaccines.

“Please understand that due to the vaccine shortage, we cannot offer preventive monkeypox vaccination to everyone interested. We can use the reservation platform to quickly allocate available appointments and contact interested parties as soon as there are more vaccines”, the authorities said.

After the registration, people will be contacted to book appointments on September 14th. The first available date will be September 19th.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Who should be vaccinated against monkeypox?

Vaccination of the general population is currently not recommended.

Preventive vaccination is only offered to health care workers with a very high risk of exposure to people with monkeypox (designated monkeypox departments/outpatient clinics/offices) and persons with individual risk behaviour (persons with frequently changing sexual contacts), the City of Vienna said.

The health authorities in Vienna also have a specific information sheet in English with more information on the disease.

Monkeypox is a notifiable disease caused by a virus closely related to the smallpox virus and which can cause a condition similar to smallpox but rarely deadly. People with immunodeficiencies, pregnant women and children are at risk of more severe symptoms.

The virus spreads from person to person through contact with infectious skin lesions, via air droplets through speaking, coughing, sneezing, or other body fluids, and when having prolonged and close physical contact, e.g. through sexual intercourse.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Usually, the first symptoms show up 5 to 14 days (at the latest, 21 days) after exposure. These include fever, general exhaustion, headaches, muscle and body aches, gastrointestinal problems and frequently painfully swollen lymph nodes.

“If you have symptoms and have had contact with someone with monkeypox, you must self-isolate at once and call 1450. If you have a confirmed monkeypox infection, you need to stay in self-isolation until the last crust has fallen off”, the Austrian authorities added.