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COVID-19 VACCINES

Austria extends validity of vaccines for Covid-19 green pass

In Austria, the Covid-19 vaccine has a validity period. What does this mean for the Green Pass and for people that were vaccinated earlier in the year?

Austria extends validity of vaccines for Covid-19 green pass
A green pass - Austria's Covid immunity certificate - is needed to access most venues and events in Austria. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

When the Covid-19 vaccination roll out started in Austria at the end of 2020, the vaccines had a validity period of 270 days (nine months). 

This means that people who were fully vaccinated by the end of January 2021 would see the Green Pass (Austria’s Covid-19 digital certificate) turn red next month.

However, when the 8th amendment to the 2nd Covid-19 opening regulation came into force on September 15, the validity of the full immunisation was extended to 360 days and the Green Pass was updated.

This also applies to people who have recovered from Covid-19 and received one dose of the vaccine.

The only exception is the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which still has a validity period of 270 days.

A report by the Wiener Zeitung states the vaccinations have a validity period because they have not yet been approved for a third dose, with the Ministry of Health saying what happens in the future will depend on “how the matter develops”.

The Covid-19 vaccine and immunity

Third doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are already taking place in an “off-label” application, but a full-scale roll-out for the general population is yet to be approved.

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

Some medical experts are calling for a nationwide third shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, whereas others are hesitant until there is more data to prove effectiveness.

Markus Zeitlinger, head of the University Clinic for Clinical Pharmacology at the Medical University of Vienna, told the Wiener Zeitung he believes the third dose should be administered after nine months, especially for the elderly.

Although Zeitlinger said he would like to see more data before a third shot is recommended for everyone.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to announce an approval for the third dose of mRNA Covid-19 vaccinations in the coming weeks.

Third doses can already be booked in all federal states in Austria, at least for high-risk patients.

In Tyrol, for instance, patients in high-risk categories can now register for a third dose with their doctor. 

UPDATE: Austria to roll out Covid booster shots in autumn

What is the Green Pass used for?

Currently, the Green Pass allows people access to public spaces like bars, restaurants, cafes and events where the 3-G rule (recovered, vaccinated or negative antigen/PCR test) applies.

But it could change to 2-G (recovered or vaccinated) for nightclubs and late night catering if the number of people in intensive care with Covid-19 continues to rise. This would mean people with a negative test would not be allowed to enter.

A full overview of the current national Covid-19 rules can be found here.

In Vienna, the 2-G rule will already be brought in from October 1st for late night catering venues and gatherings of more than 500 people (indoor and outdoor). 

For employees of late night venues in Vienna, there will be a 2.5-G rule – vaccinated, recovered or a negative PCR test.

READ MORE: Vienna to further tighten Covid measures from October

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COVID-19 RULES

Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

The EU has eased recommendations for face masks on flights and in airports, but member states are free to put their own rules in place.

Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

Since Monday, May 16th, it is no longer mandatory to wear a medical-grade face mask on flights and at airports within the EU.

But Austria will continue with the rule for now, meaning that masks are required on flights to Austria.

The implementation of the EU recommendation is based on the national rules in individual countries. 

For flights, where a destination country has a mask rule in place, then masks must be worn. 

An Austrian Airlines spokesperson told the Kronen Zeitung: “The easing of the mask requirement is an EU recommendation that must be reflected in a national regulation in order to also apply in Austria.” 

The aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC states that if masks are mandatory on public transport at the point of departure or at the destination, then the regulation should also continue on board the aircraft.

According to current Austrian Covid-19 regulations, wearing an FFP2 mask is still required in hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

READ MORE: LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules

In addition to Austria, masks are still compulsory in some public areas in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy – all key tourism destinations for travellers from Austria.

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