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COVID-19 VACCINES

How do I get my Covid booster shot in Austria?

Want to get a Covid-19 booster shot in Austria? Here's what you need to know.

An elderly man receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine on March 30, 2021. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP)
An elderly man receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine on March 30, 2021. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP)

Just under 80,000 people have received a booster shot against Covid in Austria as at mid-October, despite there being no official plan to roll out the third jabs.

Austrian newspaper Der Standard reports that the government is yet to roll out its official booster program, meaning those who have got their third jab have received it on an unofficial basis.

Up until this point, it is only those who have serious health issues or are of advanced age who have received the jab.

In late October, the EMA approved the Moderna shot to be used as a booster. 

How do I get my Covid booster shot in Austria? 

Austria is planning to roll out a third Covid booster shot “in due course”, with indications that they are likely to start in aged care facilities in October.

At this stage, the final touches are still being added to Austria’s plan for rolling out booster shots. 

Therefore, there is currently no official way in which a person can sign up for a third dose of the vaccine. 

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein recently indicated that those who are deemed to be in risk categories will be notified by letter and will then be able to make a booking to get a booster shot. 

If you have not yet received a letter but believe you are in a high-risk category and should have a booster shot, please contact your GP to discuss your situation and find out how you can be vaccinated. 

Which states have been rolling out booster shots?

With the states playing the key role in administering booster shots, it is perhaps no surprised that the number of shots administered differs from state to state.

According to information published in Austrian newspaper Der Standard, the most were administered in Lower Austria (17,500), followed by 16,000 in Vienna.

In total, 12,000 were administered in Styria, 10,200 in Upper Austria and 7,900 in Tyrol.

Vorarlberg has administered the lowest number of booster shots, having administered around 2,300 so far.

Vienna authorities have indicated that booster shots should be made available for the most vulnerable and should be given at least six months after the previous shot.

Vienna planning Johnson and Johnson booster

People vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine can register for a booster jab in Vienna from Thursday, September 30th. 

The Austrian National Vaccination Board has now updated its recommendation to include a second dose of vaccine for those who were given the Johnson & Johnson jab.

Unlike the other vaccines which have been administered in Austria – namely Biontech/Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca – the Johnson and Johnson vaccine does not require two shots. 

UPDATE: Austria to roll out Covid booster shots in autumn

However, Austrian authorities recommend taking another manufacturer rather than Johnson and Johnson as the second jab, for instance Biontech/Pfizer or Moderna. 

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COVID-19 ALERT

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.

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