How do I get a flu vaccine in Austria, and do I have to pay?
It depends on where you live and whether you belong to an at-risk group.
The flu vaccine is recommended for all adults in Austria, but some groups are particularly at risk from either catching the flu or falling severely ill with it.
The following groups are strongly recommended to get the flu vaccine: babies and toddlers, people aged over 60 (around 90 percent of all Austria’s flu deaths fall into these two age groups), people with certain chronic illnesses, people working in healthcare and care settings, pregnant people and those trying to get pregnant, and people with frequent contact with the public such as those working in retail or gastronomy.
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This is particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic for two reasons. Firstly, the fewer people who get severely ill from flu, the greater the capacity in the healthcare sector will be. And secondly, this year there is a high risk of a flu outbreak because last year there was no real wave of flu due to the measures in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Austria’s Chamber of Pharmacists also recommends getting the flu vaccine before winter travel overseas, with the flu season having already started in several popular holiday destinations for Austrian residents such as Croatia.
The recommended time for getting the vaccine is between late October and November, to ensure that you have the best change of protection during the usual peak of the season in December to January.
As for the cost of the vaccine, it is not free for adults as a general rule, but many groups can get the flu vaccine without paying.
For children aged between six months and 15 years, the vaccine is free, wherever you live in the country.
For adults, the vaccine is organized at a regional level, with most states procuring vaccines to be distributed for free among staff of healthcare facilities, elderly care homes, and schools for example. Some private employers also offer the flu vaccine for free, and some insurance programmes cover the cost.
If you don’t belong to any of those categories, you should contact your doctor to find out more. You can also find out more by calling the health information phoneline 1450 or by contacting your local authority responsible for organizing vaccinations; the contact details are listed here by the government.
The vaccine often costs money for adults outside the targeted groups, for example in Upper Austria the cost is €15, in Styria €16, in Salzburg €20, in Carinthia €22.
Last year, many states offered free flu vaccines for members of the public outside risk groups, but fewer are continuing the campaign this year. One exception however is Vienna, where you will be able to get a free flu vaccine starting from early November by booking online or speaking to your doctor.
You need to bring a photo ID to your appointment, and your e-card if you have one.
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