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COVID-19 VACCINES

Green pass: Recovered people with one Covid jab now deemed ‘fully immune’ in Austria

People who have recovered from Covid-19 and had just one vaccination, will now be registered as “fully vaccinated” on their Green Pass in Austria.

A green pass - Austria's Covid immunity certificate - is needed to access most venues and events in Austria. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP
Austria's Green Pass rules are changing in August. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

In Austria, people who have recovered from Covid-19 are advised to have just one vaccination against the disease by the Austrian Vaccination Board.

However, this has left thousands of people unable to access privileges such as quarantine-free travel or access to venues and restaurants without testing, as their Green Pass does not show them as “fully immunised”.

Now that is about to change.

Starting now and until August 15th, changes will be made to the Green Pass so people who fall into this category will gain the privileges granted to those who have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

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

The Austrian health system Elga has already received 736,000 entries covering those who have recovered and has started work on the technical implementation, Der Standard reports.

Two shots to be considered fully immune from August 15th

One other change coming into effect which may impact the vaccinated relates to the number of shots you need to have to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

In Austria, you are deemed to have immunity 22 days after your first shot of any type of the vaccine. 

This will change on August 15th, where you will need to have had two shots of the vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. 

After your second shot, the immunity is deemed to last 270 days, or approximately nine months. 

In the case of Johnson and Johnson, the 270-day period applies after the first (and therefore only) shot. 

If you have recovered from the virus and have also had one vaccination, your immunity is deemed to last until 270 days (or approximately nine months) after your shot. 

This is slightly shorter than in other countries, such as neighbouring Switzerland, where the immunity is deemed to last for a year. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Austria announces it will scrap mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law

Austria's federal government on Thursday announced it would scrap its controversial mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law.

Austria announces it will scrap mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law

Austria will cancel its mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law, the federal government announced during a press conference on Thursday.

The controversial law had been suspended until August after coronavirus infection rates slowed. However, it hadn’t been abolished.

The government could still bring back a set of regulations allowing police to check people’s vaccinated status. Those that could not prove they were either vaccinated, or recently recovered from the disease, would have to pay a fine.

“The omicron variant changed the situation”, health minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

He added that the law was introduced in a different context and was supported by “a clear majority” at the time when hospitals were full and “intensive care units were on the limit”.

The minister said that the new variant has reduced the effectiveness of vaccination against infections and has caused less severe courses of the disease.

“Even people who are willing to vaccinate in principle are now more difficult to convince of the need for a third dose”.

Rauch said the obligation to vaccinate did not increase the take up of the Covid jab. Instead, it “opened deep trenches in Austrian society”, according to the minister.

The controversial law provoked numerous street protests throughout Austria after it was announced.

The minister said that the obligation itself even made some give up on their intent to get the jab.

Living with Covid

The new variants bring a new scenario to Austria and people will need to learn to coexist with the virus, according to the health minister.

“Living with Covid means that we will bring forward a comprehensive package of measures, and today that means the abolition of compulsory vaccination,” Rauch said.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

The minister reiterated that vaccination is essential, especially as it helps prevent hospitalisations and more severe disease courses. He added that there should be an extensive vaccination campaign before Autumn and an expected winter Covid-19 wave.

Currently, about 62 percent of the Austrian population has a valid vaccination certificate. However, the number has decreased as people fail to schedule booster, or a third-dose, appointments.

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 was purely “informational”, and Austrian residents received letters explaining vaccines and the regulation.

A second stage, when people could have been fined if 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.

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