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Vienna to vaccinate over 65s with AstraZeneca against Austrian recommendation

The Local Austria
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Vienna to vaccinate over 65s with AstraZeneca against Austrian recommendation
The AstraZeneca vaccine up close. Photo: Fred SCHEIBER / AFP

Authorities in Vienna will start vaccinating over 65s with the AstraZeneca vaccine, in contravention of the recommendation of the Austrian government.

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NOTE: As at March 5th, the Austrian government reversed its decision and will now recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for over 65s. Click here for more. 

Vienna's City Councillor for Health Peter Hacker has announced he will be offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to over 65s in Austria’s capital over the next few weeks. 

He expressed "incomprehension" on Wednesday in a press conference about the vaccination board’s decision to continue to advise the vaccine be given to younger people.  

Ursula Wiedermann-Schmidt, the scientific director of the National Vaccination Committee, thinks the Viennese approach is "by no means wrong", Wiener Zeitung reports. 

The news came just two days after Austrian authorities recommended the vaccine for under 65s only. 

READ: Why are a fifth of Austria’s vaccine doses still sitting in storage?

On February 24th, the head of Austria’s Vaccination Board Ursula Wiedermann-Schmidt said she will ask health minister Rudolph Anschober to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for seniors. 

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Austria’s Health Ministry indicated on Monday there was not enough information to overturn the previous recommendation that the vaccine be available for under 65s, Austria's Der Standard newspaper reports

“The current recommendation was confirmed” said the Health Ministry on Monday. 

"Based on only very few cases of the disease, no reliable statements about the effectiveness of this vaccine for people over 65 are possible at this point in time," it said.

The Austrian government did not rule out approving the vaccine in the future, but indicated there was not enough reliable information to do so at present. 

As it stands, only around half of the 156,000 delivered doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Austria. 

France and Germany this week indicated it would change its earlier decision to recommend the vaccine for over 65s. 

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