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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EXPLAINED: How Austria’s compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

The much-debated policy sparked controversy since before it was approved in February, meaning that May could be a definitive month in the country.

EXPLAINED: How Austria's compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

Austria’s Federal Government has a ticking time bomb on its hands: an ordinance that suspended its vaccine mandate law is set to expire by the end of May, which means that the controversial mandatory vaccination would be again in place as early as June 1st.

In order to keep that from happening, Austria’s Health Ministry needs to extend the current regulation or create a new one.

If it doesn’t, the Covid-19 mandatory vaccination law would automatically be back in June.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s plans to bring back the vaccine mandate?

Since, by June, the vaccine mandate stated that non-vaccinated would start getting fines, the resumption of the law would mean that, from next month, those who are not vaccinated could be fined in routine checks, such as traffic checks.

The ins and outs of the vaccine mandate

The law was first introduced in February, even though the technical requirements for it to be enacted were not in place. The first stage of it was purely “informational”, and Austrian residents received letters explaining about vaccines and about the regulation.

A second stage, when people could have been fined if they were not vaccinated, was set to start in mid-March. Before a single person was fined, though, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) suspended the law with an ordinance.

The law was suspended for a variety of reasons, primarily due to the relatively high vaccination coverage the country had already received, along with the lower virulence of the Omicron variant. 

READ ALSO: Austria to scrap mandatory Covid vaccinations

To create a new regulation or extend the existing one stopping people from being fined, Rauch must await the report of the vaccination commission, which should be ready in May, according to the Ministry.

The coronavirus commission will assess whether the Vaccination Act is suitable and useful from a medical and legal point of view. A previous report said there were arguments for and against mandatory vaccination for those who were completely unvaccinated.

READ ALSO: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

Der Standard reports there is little political support for compulsory vaccination and says there are still technical problems regarding automated fines. However, according to the Ministry of Health, the infrastructure should be completed in June.