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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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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Camping in Austria can be a lot of fun, but what are the rules? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up camp in the Alpine republic.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Waking up beside a lake or surrounded by mountains is a dream Austrian holiday for many, but it’s important to know the rules about camping before heading off with a tent or campervan.

As the summer season approaches, here’s everything you need to know about camping in Austria.

Is wild camping legal in Austria?

Wild camping – setting up camp outside of a designated campsite – is generally illegal in Austria. This applies to both camping in a tent or sleeping in a van on the side of the road.

Exceptions to this rule do exist but usually only if the municipal authority grants a temporary exception, for example for a school trip or a youth club activity.

A bivouac (temporary camp without cover) is allowed in the event of bad weather or injury, but planned wild camping in the mountains is illegal. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules for wild camping in Austria?

There are some regional differences though.

In the states of Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Styria there are no laws strictly forbidding camping outside of campsites, but local authorities can prohibit it and take action if necessary.

The strictest rules apply in national parks, nature reserves and special protection areas across Austria, so check before you plan your camping trip that your spot is not located in one of these areas.  

In most cases, if someone is caught camping illegally in Austria it is considered as an administrative offence and a fine can be issued, ranging from €5 to €500, depending on the location.

Camping in the forest

Camping in the forest is prohibited everywhere in Austria by law (specifically Section 33 of the Forest Act). The only exception is when you have the consent of the landowner.

Camping above the tree line

In Upper Austria and Styria you are allowed to camp in the mountains above the tree line, as long as you are outside of pasture areas.

In Vorarlberg this is also permitted, although the mayor of a municipality can prohibit the setting up of tents outside approved campsites if the interests of safety, health, agriculture or the protection of the natural balance as well as the landscape and townscape are “grossly violated”.

In Salzburg, camping above the tree line is in theory permitted, but the Alpine Association recommends groups wishing to camp should contact the nature conservation department of the responsible district administration before setting up. 

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Camping in a tent

Camping in a tent is the most common way of camping in the summer and most people pitch up on a dedicated campsite.

Many campgrounds have water and electricity facilities, as well as showers, cooking areas, recreation spaces and even kids clubs. Others have luxury elements like year-round heated pools, saunas, beach volleyball and restaurants.

Campsites are also often located near a lake or at the base of mountains, which means you can wake up to beautiful scenery every morning .

Some of Austria’s top camping associations include Camping Wien, Camping Steiermark and Top Camping Austria.

Camping in a van

Camping in a motorhome is only allowed at campsites in Austria and if someone is caught sleeping in a van in a prohibited area they can be fined.

The only exception is if a driver has to stop and recuperate before continuing driving.

Top camping tips

Austria is packed with stunning natural landscapes, so camping during the summer months is a popular activity – both for Austrian residents and tourists.

For this reason, it’s recommended to book ahead during the peak summer holiday months of July and August, whether planning to camp in a motorhome or tent.

Camping in motorhomes is also becoming more popular at some winter campsites during the ski season, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance.

Additionally, it’s advised to take bug spray when camping in Austria in the summer as insects like mosquitoes and ticks are common in countryside areas.

In fact, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) – a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected ticks – is endemic in Austria and it’s recommended to get vaccinated before going on a hiking or camping trip in the country.

The main affected areas for TBE are Tyrol and Upper Austria.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘tick vaccine’ and should you take it

Useful vocabulary

Campsite – Campingplätze

Tent – Zelt

Campervan – Reisemobil

Electricity – Strom

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