Vienna makes Covid-19 vaccines compulsory for all new health and social workers

The obligation for workers in particular professions to be vaccinated against Covid-19 will be expanded in Vienna, with newly hired health and social workers now requiring the jab.

Vienna makes Covid-19 vaccines compulsory for all new health and social workers
A health worker in Vienna holds a syringe of the Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Vienna health boss Peter Hacker announced on Wednesday that the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination rules would be expanded in the city-state. 

In addition to workers in the healthcare profession – for whom vaccination is already required – those working in social care will also need to be vaccinated. 

Vaccinations are only required for new hires – i.e. not for those who were already working in the job when the vaccines were rolled out. 

In addition to healthcare workers, all facilities for homeless people along with retirement and nursing homes will need to ensure new workers are vaccinated. 

“The same now applies to the religious hospitals. The social institutions in Vienna will follow in the next few days,” Hacker told Vienna Heute. 

Everyone within the industry must be vaccinated, i.e. not just those who have direct contact with patients. Therefore, administrative staff also need to get the jab. 

Hacker said the compulsory vaccination rules were necessary in the health and social sectors as “these are the facilities at the most risk in the event of a pandemic”. 

Hacker indicated that the spread of the Delta variant had forced the government’s hand. 

Currently, the vaccination rates in the health and social care professions are between 80 and 90 percent. 

Hacker also said a further expansion of compulsory vaccination could be expanded to other professions such as hospitality and gastronomy, however nothing was being planned at this stage. 

History of compulsory vaccination for certain professions in Vienna

While the Covid-19 vaccine has just been rolled out, an obligation to be vaccinated is nothing new in Vienna. 

Since 2017, Vienna Health Association staff have been required to be vaccinated for certain infectious diseases, including diphtheria, measles, tetanus, mumps, rubella and hepatitis B.

Covid-19 was placed on the list on May 27th. 

Hacker said he hoped that 80 percent of the Vienna population would be vaccinated by the end of September, 2021. 

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Reader question: When should I get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Austria?

Austria's national vaccination board changed the recommendations for when to get the fourth dose of coronavirus vaccines. Here's what you need to know.

Reader question: When should I get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Austria?

Over this weekend, Austria’s national vaccination board (NIG) released an updated recommendation on Covid-19 immunisation, changing its previous guidance for the fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccination slightly.

According to the NIG, booster vaccinations can be given to persons aged 12 years and older and are recommended for anyone who wants to protect themselves.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get the new adapted Covid-19 vaccine in Austria

In particular, the 4th vaccination is advised for persons over 60 years of age, persons at risk of severe disease progression (including pregnant women) and persons with an increased risk of exposure (healthcare workers, people in long-term nursing or care facilities, etc.).

The recommended interval between the third and fourth doses is from six months for people between 12 and 59 years old, NIG said. For those over 60 or risk patients, that interval is from 4 months.

What has changed then?

The main difference is the recommendation for those who have had a Covid-19 infection after their third shot.

“An infection in vaccinated persons usually leads to a booster effect (hybrid immunity), which can affect the optimal timing of the next vaccination.”, NIG said.

However, the board specified that infection could only be “counted” after it was confirmed with a PCR test.

READ ALSO: Austria announces new Covid-19 vaccination campaign

So, if you have had a PCR-confirmed infection after your second or third shot and it was an asymptomatic case, you may follow the regular vaccination scheme. However, you can also postpone your vaccination for up to six months.

If you had a symptomatic case, you may postpone your next dose for up to six months only if you are younger than 60 and not of a risk group.

NIG said: “Persons vaccinated three times who have also had a proven omicron infection show a good booster response and cross-immunity”.

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

It added: In such cases, especially in persons under 60 years of age, the 4th vaccination within a period of up to 6 months does not achieve any further improvement in immune protection and thus, the 4th vaccination can be postponed accordingly.