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HEALTH

Reader question: How do I get a flu vaccine in Austria?

Last year, the number of people who got vaccinated against the flu rose significantly in Austria, with some states offering the jab for free. A reader got in touch to ask what the situation will look like this winter.

Woman with flu in bed with tissues
Getting the flu vaccine can help protect you and others around you from illness, but who's eligible for a free jab in Austria? Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

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.

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.

Got a question about life in Austria? Contact our editorial team at [email protected] and we will do our best to help you.

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HEALTH

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian doctors and virologists have warned of a particularly strong flu wave this winter and recommend that people get vaccinated. Here's how to get the shot in each province.

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian experts have said there would likely be an exceptionally high wave of the flu after hardly any cases were registered in the past two years. The measures against Covid-19 prevented infections with Sars-CoV-2 – and curbed the spread of influenza and other cold viruses.

This is about to change this season as Covid measures were relaxed and airborne viruses spread again, they said.

In principle, the influenza vaccination protects against symptomatic infection for four months: “About 80 percent for H1 viruses, about 50 to 60 percent for H3 strains and 60 to 70 percent for B viruses,” said Monika Redlberger-Fritz, a virologist from Med-Uni Vienna.

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

She added: “But even with vaccine breakthroughs, you are still very well protected against complications, hospitalisations and death.”

Unlike the Covid-19 vaccination, the flu jab is not organised by the federal government but by the respective provinces, which file a report only after the flu season. In every province, the vaccine is free for children, but many ask adults to pay for a fee or get it from their doctors. In Vienna, the flu vaccination is free for everyone.

Here is how to get the vaccine in each province in campaigns carried out with the participation or knowledge of the government – companies and private insurance institutions can also start their own vaccination campaigns.

Vienna

Vienna offers free flu vaccinations for every resident. You can register online with the impfservice.wien or visit one of the centres that accept people without appointments (for example, the Austria Center Vienna). 

All that is necessary is for you to bring a document with your picture and wear an FFP2 mask. If you have an e-card and a vaccination passport, bring those with you as well. There is also a form to fill out, but those are available on-site.  

Lower Austria

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to 15-years-old, and they can get the shot from established medical specialists. For those who are older, it is possible to receive the vaccination from a registered specialist, company medical service or from their employer, but they may be charged for it.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Upper Austria

Children aged six months to 15 can get the vaccine for free with their general practitioners and paediatricians. However, you may need to get the vaccine components at the pharmacy with a voucher and register with your doctor.

Older people can get the vaccination directly at vaccination sites in their district for €15. Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Styria

In Styria, children from six months to age 15 get the vaccine for free with paediatricians or public health services of their district authorities.  Older adults can get it from the public health service for €16 or €27 if they are older than 65. 

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Carinthia

Children (from six months to 15 years) can get the vaccine for free in doctor’s offices or public health centres. You can check HERE for more information and register. For older people, the price is €22, though prices could be different if you go to your doctor instead of a vaccination centre.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Burgenland

Children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free in pharmacies and with their physicians. At-risk patients older than that can also get free vaccines, but only while supplies last. 

Otherwise, buying and paying for the vaccine in a pharmacy or with your general practitioner is possible. There are also free vaccinations in elderly and care homes. 

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Salzburg

Children from six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with any doctor offering it. You can check with your family doctor or paediatrician. Anyone over 15 that wants to get it needs to buy it at a pharmacy (prices vary depending on the vaccine used) and can ask their family doctor. 

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Salzburg HERE.

Tyrol

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to the age of 15 years, and they can get it directly from their doctor (a general practitioner or a paediatrician, for example). For those older, it’s possible to vaccinate with their family doctors, but prices vary for the product and pharmacies and the doctor’s fee. 

Residents of elderly and nursing homes aged 60 and over get the vaccination free of charge.

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Tyrol HERE.

Vorarlberg

In Vorarlberg, children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with their doctors. Adults can also get it from general practitioner’s offices but will need to pay variable costs (depending on doctor fees and which vaccine they choose).

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Vorarlberg HERE.

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