Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said he is “very angry” after it emerged some regional politicians in Austria were immunised with “leftover” coronavirus vaccines, even though they were not part of a high risk group.
Earlier reports claimed the politicians took “leftover” doses after people in the care homes had already been vaccinated. The paper also claimed the Feldkirch Mayor Wolfgang Matt apologised in a broadcast message after he decided to be vaccinated before he was due to be.
Salzburg governor Wilfried Haslauer, from Austrian People's Party, defended the vaccination of mayors in the city, despite the criticism by Chancellor Kurz and Health Minister Anschober.
Haslauer stated in a letter that the vaccination was justified in the case of mayors who, as part of their duties, are in regular contact with people in senior citizens' homes.
There is no rule to stop mayors from taking leftover vaccine doses in the nursing homes, unless they pay money to do so as this could constitute bribery.
Serious cases of corruption can be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years. However the value of a corona vaccination is “new legal territory”, Der Standard points out.
Under Austria’s three-phase vaccination scheme, people in risk groups for coronavirus are set to be given priority in vaccinations, is only advisory.
Phase one will see staff and residents of nursing homes followed by people aged over 80, followed by health workers and people in other vulnerable categories as part of phase two.
Starting in April, phase three will see the vaccine available to the general public.