UPDATED: What are the rules for vaccinating children in Austria?

Vaccinations have been approved in Austria for people aged 12 and up, with teenagers from 14 allowed to get vaccinated without parental consent. Here’s what you need to know.

UPDATED: What are the rules for vaccinating children in Austria?
What are the rules for vaccinating children in Austria? Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

Austria has approved vaccinations from ages 12 and up, although whether you will get a jab – and how long you have to wait – is likely to depend largely on which state you are in. 

The European Medicine Agency (EMA) approved the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine for everyone over 12 years old in late May, with the Moderna jab approved for teenagers in July. 

Austria’s Ministry of Health has advised that children should be vaccinated once the EMA approves the vaccine, with the country’s health minister Wolfgang Mückstein telling Der Standard newspaper, that if the vaccine was approved by the EMA, it meant it was “highly effective and safe”.

“I would also vaccinate my daughters with it,” he is reported to have said.

There are an estimated 340,000 people between the ages of 12 and 17 in Austria, with Austrian authorities wanting to have them fully vaccinated by the end of August. 

Vaccinating children is seen as essential in getting towards herd immunity. 

Where can I get my children vaccinated? 

As at August, both the vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer and that of Moderna is approved for people under the age of 18 in Austria. 

Vaccinations for children are available in all Austrian states, although states are at a different stage. 

Vienna opened registrations for children to get vaccinated in Austria in May, while the other states kicked into gear around July. 

Click the following link for specific information on how to get vaccinated in your Austrian state. 

READ MORE: How to get vaccinated without an appointment in your Austrian state

What if I don’t want to vaccinate my children against coronavirus? 

Vaccination is voluntary in Austria and authorities have frequently been at pains to point out that while they want as many people vaccinated as possible, it is a personal decision. 

The ‘personal decision’ aspect does however become a tad more difficult or complicated when it comes to vaccinating your children. 

While vaccines have been deemed safe for people aged 12 and older, only those above 14 years of age are deemed to have the requisite capacity to decide whether to get the vaccine or not. 

This means that those aged 12 and 13 will need parental consent to get vaccinated, while those aged 14 and over can do so regardless of what their parents say. 

This is a relatively hard and fast rule. In other European countries, children can only be vaccinated without parental consent when they are deemed to have the requisite capacity to make a decision, however this can be from 12 to 16, with no set age given. 

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What to know about Austria’s new advice on Covid vaccines

As the coronavirus pandemic progressed, each country developed its own vaccination recommendation, which often changed. Here is the new advice from the Austrian vaccination panel.

What to know about Austria's new advice on Covid vaccines

The Austrian National Vaccination Panel has updated its recommendations on Covid vaccination on several points, the Ministry of Health announced.

“Special attention continues to be paid to the completion of the basic immunisation, which is recommended for all persons five years of age and older, and to the booster vaccination,” according to the Ministry of Health.

The booster shot is generally available to all persons 12 years of age and older and is free of charge, but it is especially recommended for persons 60 years of age and older and those at risk.

READ ALSO: Masks against Covid and flu: What’s ahead for Austria this winter

In Austria, the basic immunisation against Covid-19 consists of three vaccine doses. A fourth dose, also known as a booster shot, is also recommended.

What is new in the recommendation?

Austria is adding a new coronavirus vaccine, from Sanofi (VidPrevtyn Beta), to the list of offers against the virus. The new vaccine is protein-based and has already been approved by the European authorities. 

In Austria, the Sanofi vaccine can be used from the third vaccination onwards on people older than 18. The offer will be available at the vaccination sites in the coming week at the earliest, according to the Ministry. 

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

Another change is that the variant Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 from BioNTech/Pfizer will also be used for the third vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years. 

This vaccine is specially adapted to the virus variants Omicron BA.4 and 5. It is now available for children in a special application shot that should be in vaccination sites starting next week at the earliest. 

READ ALSO: What to expect from the ski season in Austria this winter

Also included in the recommendations is a clarification specifically on an additional booster vaccination (fifth vaccination). 

People at risk from the age of 18, and those from the age of 60 can receive the additional booster vaccination four months after the fourth vaccination. According to the vaccination panel, no fifth vaccination is necessary for healthy people under 60.