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Is Austria’s vaccination strategy failing foreigners?

Is Austria’s vaccination strategy failing foreigners?
Photo: RONNY HARTMANN / AFP
This week, Austria crossed the 500,000 vaccination mark - but experts believe the vaccination strategy is neglecting the country's sizeable foreign population.

On Monday, February 22nd, Austria crossed the 500,000 mark in vaccine doses. In total, just over four percent of the population has received at least one vaccination dose – with 2.63 percent receiving both doses.

From not providing information in languages other than German to failing to tackle a slew of conspiracy theories and incorrect information on social media, Austrian authorities’ vaccination strategy is failing the country’s sizeable foreign population. 

Judith Kohlenberger from the Institute for Social Policy at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration told Wien Heute the country has adopted a “white, classically Austrian vaccination campaign”. 

Kohlenberger points out that the Österreich impft (Austria vaccinates) campaign features nobody obviously of a migrant background – unlike of course the vast majority of hospitals and medical centres where people who have contracted coronavirus are being cared for. 

“We just have to go to any hospital in Vienna, where the majority of nurses have a migration background. That would be good (to gather) testimonials to say, yes, we will be vaccinated,” she said. 

READ: Will Austria really be able to vaccinate one million people by April? 

Mariam Elhigazi, psychologist and health guide at Volkshilfe Vienna, told ORF that it was clear the government’s vaccination campaign was targeted at “rich, old people” rather than foreigners. 

“There is really very good information from the government about the measures I can take to protect myself. But there isn’t that much about vaccination,” she said. 

“And if there’s anything, it’s for rich people, old people – but I can’t find myself (in the campaign),” she said. 

Hard to find information in languages other than German 

When the Red Cross’ campaign was launched, it did not have information in languages other than German – although a Red Cross spokesman told ORF on Monday that this had now changed

“The latest information from the ‘Austria vaccinated’ initiative has already been translated into 14 languages. Over the past few weeks they have been placed in various foreign-language media,” said Red Cross spokesman Gerald Czech

According to the spokesman, the campaign has “already been translated into 14 languages” including Arabic, Turkish and Hungarian, however the website does not currently have information in any language other than German. 


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