Vaccination rates declining in Austria despite Delta variant concerns

Vaccination rates declining in Austria despite Delta variant concerns
Photo: MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz calls for unvaccinated people to come forward for the Covid-19 vaccine as the number of vaccinations being administered in Austria falls for the first time.

The number of first vaccinations being administered in Austria is falling, with the country anticipating a fourth wave of cases.

Currently, around 70,000 vaccinations a day are being carried out, down from 90,000 per day in mid June when there was a shortage of vaccinations in the country.

There is now a plentiful supply of vaccines in Austria, but demand is falling with fewer people coming forward to receive a first vaccination.

The news comes as Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) is visiting New York and is repeating calls for people to get vaccinated.

“For everyone who is vaccinated, the pandemic is over,” said Kurz.

“For everyone who is not vaccinated, the virus is a massive problem.” 

There are also concerns that a fourth wave of cases is heading for Austria, after 192 new cases were recorded on Monday, but no deaths for the second day in a row. 

Der Standard reports that Kurz has again defended the planned relaxation of measures on July 22nd, including the mask mandate everywhere except public transport and in supermarkets, and said it’s the responsibility of individuals to get vaccinated.

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To date, just over five million people in Austria have already received the first shot, which is around 64 per cent of the population aged 12 and over.

Appointment-free vaccination centres

In a bid to speed up the vaccination roll-out, some provinces have opened walk-in vaccination centres where appointments are not needed and, in some cases, people can choose which vaccine to receive.

From Monday July 19th, a vaccination bus in Upper Austria will visit Linz with a similar scheme being rolled out in Wels on Friday and Saturday. The bus will deliver the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

On Thursday, walk-in vaccinations will be available at the PlusCity shopping centre in Pasching, Upper Austria, and at the Drinking Hall in Bad Ischl, Salzkammergut.

An appointment-free service is running in Vienna at the Rathausplatz from 5pm to 10pm each evening. The program started on July 3rd and will run until September 4th. 

For everyone over 18, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered. For those under 18, the BioNTech/Pfizer jab is on offer – with the second to take place at the Austria Centre in Vienna. 

EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s Covid-19 immunity card and how do I get it?

In Tyrol, the first appointment-free event at all of the state’s vaccination centres on July 4th saw 13,000 of the 16,000 available doses administered. The scheme was repeated at the weekend.

Reports show 7,550 first doses were delivered between Thursday and Sunday in Tyrol, but up to 20,000 doses were available.

You can find a full overview of the walk-in vaccination centres by province here.

What about the Delta variant?

The number of cases of the Delta variant is growing in Austria and was already labelled as the dominant variant in early July.

The Local spoke to Fabian Valka, Researcher Mathematical Modeling and Machine Learning at vektorraum, earlier this month who raised concerns about the relaxation of measures as the variant was circulating.

He said: “Personally, I think that we’ll probably need to reintroduce many currently lifted interventions in Austria to stop the next wave of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths.”


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