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VACCINATIONS

Reader question: Do I need my e-card to get vaccinated in Austria?

Regardless of what type of insurance you have, you’re likely to have an e-card. But do you need one to get vaccinated in Austria?

Reader question: Do I need my e-card to get vaccinated in Austria?
Ecard image: Wikicommons

Austria’s vaccination drive began in December and is hitting its stride. 

As vaccinations become available to the general public, one question we have been asked regularly is what kind of documentation you need to get vaccinated in Austria. 

Here is the form you need to get vaccinated in Austria

More specifically, people have asked us whether you need to be an Austrian citizen to get vaccinated – and whether people who cross the border to work in Austria are also entitled to the vaccine. 

Put simply, in order to get vaccinated in Austria you need to have an Austrian social security number and/or an e-card. Here’s what you need to know. 

E-card, bitte!

As with most medical procedures in Austria, the most important document is the e-card. 

The Austrian e-card is an electronic chip card linked to the electronic administration system of Austria’s social insurance system, which includes health, accident, pension and unemployment insurance.

Anyone who wants to get vaccinated in Austria will need to present their e-card. 

Foreigners who are resident in Austria will have an e-card, as will most cross-border workers. 

This means that foreigners who live abroad and who do not have Austrian citizenship are unable to access the vaccine in Austria. 

In addition to your e-card, you should try bring your vaccination certificate and your allergy passport if you have these documents. 

If you do not have the latter two documents however, this will not prevent the vaccination. 

But what if I don’t have an e-card? 

According to official government information, you need to present your e-card when you get vaccinated in order to receive the jab. 

More information is available at the following official link. 

While this is unlikely to cause problems for the vast majority of Austrians and Austrian residents who have e-cards, some people such as foreign students and temporary workers do not have an e-card. 

People who work for international organisations and who do not have e-cards can get vaccinated by showing their diplomatic residency cards when the vaccination takes place. 

According to the Vienna Bar Association (RAK), people who do not have an e-card will not be prevented from getting the vaccine, provided they have an Austrian social security/insurance number. 

As the RAK noted in a specific briefing in January 2021:

“Persons who have a national insurance number are registered in the Central Patient Index (Zentralen Patientenindex/ZPI) – even without a current e-card.”

“This also applies to persons who were once insured or co-insured in Austria. Therefore, they can be administered in the e-vaccination passport. Persons who do not appear in the ZPI receive an error message during identification. They can then only be documented on paper.”

How do I get an e-card or a social security number in order to get vaccinated? 

If you do not already have an e-card or social security number, fortunately these are not difficult to get. 

You can apply for an e-card for the purpose of vaccination or to get the Covid-19 green pass at the ELGA website here, provided you have a current photo. 

You can also apply in person at the service points of the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (Österreichische Gesundheitskasse), which can be found here

More information is available here, or by reading our following explainer. 

What is Austria’s e-card? Everything you need to know

Note: As with all of our coronavirus reports, please remember that they are guides only and do not constitute legal advice. Please contact your vaccination centre before your appointment to check if you have sufficient documentation to be vaccinated. 

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ECONOMY

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Austria’s lucrative winter season has already been hit by pandemic restrictions for the past two years. But this year there is also record inflation, staff shortages and an energy crisis to deal with.

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria's winter season

The winter season in Austria is a big driver of the country’s economy and has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions for the past two winters.

But this year the industry faces an even bigger crisis – a combination of rising inflation, concerns over energy supplies, staff shortages and the pandemic (because it’s not over yet).

We took a closer look to find out how these issues could impact the industry and what we could expect from this year’s winter season in Austria.

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Inflation

Winter sports is a big guzzler of energy to operate ski lifts, apres ski venues and snow making machines. 

This means the industry is in a vulnerable position as energy prices rise, with some resort operators already confirming they will have to pass on some costs to customers.

Johann Roth, Managing Director at Präbichl in Styria, said that energy costs at the resort have tripled and admitted he is concerned about the coming winter season.

Roth told the Kronen Zeitung: “Of course we will have to increase the ticket prices, and to an extent that has never been seen in recent years.”

READ MORE: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

At Planai ski resort in Schladming, Styria, Director Georg Bliem said they aim to keep the day ticket price under €70, but has also set up an energy task force to find cost-saving measures for this year. 

Suggestions for Planai include narrower slopes, reduced snowmaking capabilities, shorter cable car operating times and even a delayed start to the season.

Electricity costs at Planaibahn (the resort’s ski lift and gondola operator) were already at €3 million before the current energy crisis, according to the Kronen Zeitung.

Then there are hospitality businesses and hotels at ski resorts that are also being hit by rising costs.

As a result, the Kurier reports that room prices in overnight accommodation could increase by a further 15 percent in winter, and many people will no longer be able to afford skiing holidays.

Heating may be an issue in winter as the energy crisis looms (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)

Energy

Rising prices are just one element of the energy crisis as there are fears that Austria will not have enough gas for the coming winter season – mostly due to the war in Ukraine.

In March, Austria activated the early warning system – which is the first level of a three-step emergency plan – for the country’s gas supply. If it reaches step three (emergency level), energy control measures will be put in place across the country.

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How this would impact ski resorts is unknown, but at the emergency level, households, essential industries and infrastructure would be prioritised for energy.

So far, there is no indication that step two (alert level) will be activated and the European Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory recently confirmed that Austria’s gas storage capacity was 60 percent full

Austria’s goal is to reach 80 percent capacity by November 1st in order to have a safety reserve.

However, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler already appealed to businesses and households in July to start saving energy where possible.

Staff shortages

Ever since Austria (and Europe) started opening up after Covid-19 lockdowns, the hospitality and tourism industries have been struggling to find staff.

In fact, shortly before the start of the summer season in Austria, there were 30,000 open job vacancies in the tourism sector. And the Wiener Zeitung recently reported on how restaurants in Vienna are struggling to keep up with customer demand due to staff shortages. 

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The issue is even being discussed in parliament and it has already been made easier for seasonal workers in Austria to access residency through changes to the Red-White-Red card. 

Now, there are expectations of similar staff shortages for the winter season, which could cause further stress for ski resort operators.

Covid-19

Back in July, it was reported that the federal government was working on a Covid-19 contingency plan to get the country through another autumn and winter.

It envisages four scenarios – numbered from the best to the worst case. In the best case scenario, Austrians can live free of any pandemic rules. In the second best scenario, the situation will remain as it is (find out more about Austria’s latest Covid-19 rules here).

In scenario three, if new variants lead to more severe illness, the mask requirement will be expanded and more testing will be carried out.

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There could even be night-time curfews, entry tests and restrictions on private meetings. In addition, major events could be stopped from taking place and nightclubs closed.

Scenario four, the worst case scenario, would mean vaccination no longer offered protection and hospitals became overwhelmed, leading to severe restrictions on people’s social lives.

From what we’ve seen over the past two winters, scenarios three and four would likely impact winter sports operations. But to what degree would depend on the severity of the situation.

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