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.
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.
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.