Austria recommends AstraZeneca vaccine for under-65s only

Austria’s national vaccination board has joined Germany in recommending the AstraZeneca vaccination for people aged under 65 only.

Austria recommends AstraZeneca vaccine for under-65s only

The Italian Medicine Agency went even further, advising people aged over 55 or at higher risk to be vaccinated with the BionTech/Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines instead.

However, the European Medicine Agency has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for all adults over 18, including seniors. 

Federal Chancellor Sebastien Kurz and Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said in a statement they could now start vaccinating “very quickly”, possibly from February 7th with the third approved vaccine in Austria.

READ: When can I register for the coronavirus vaccine in my Austrian state? 

It is hoped the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine will allow large numbers of the population to be immunised as it does not have to be stored at very low temperatures like the BionTech/Pfizer vaccine. 

However, Austria’s National Vaccination Board said there was too little data from clinical studies to measure how effective the vaccine is for seniors. More data should become available in February from the UK and US.

The Austrian panel unanimously recommended the vaccine in the 18- to 64-year-old group, but said mRNA vaccines should be used for seniors and high-risk patients. However, in the case of logistical problems with the mRNA vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine can also be given to over 65s, because according to the experts, it is safe.

UPDATED: How can I get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Austria? 

Ursula Wiedermann-Schmidt, chairman of the national vaccination committee, told the Ö1 “Morgenjournal”  on Monday the decision did not affect the vaccination plan, because the recommendation only applies to the first quarter of the year. 

All older people should now be vaccinated with the already approved mRNA vaccines. 

The vaccine from AstraZeneca can be used by doctors in their private practices as well as for health workers, said the vaccinologist. Her hope is that by summer everyone who wants one will have a vaccination.

Senior Citizens Association Concerns

Ingrid Korosec, president oft he Austrian Senior‘s Federation (Österreichischer Seniorenbund) has asked authorities in Austria to wait for the study results expected in February, which should give more data on the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine in over 65s.

She recommends vaccinating anyone over 80 with the other available substances until then, the Kronen Zeitung reports.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.