Is the lockdown boosting Austria’s sluggish vaccination rate?

Is the lockdown boosting Austria's sluggish vaccination rate?
Is the fourth national lockdown boosting Covid-19 vaccination rates in Austria? Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP.
Austria's low vaccination rate has been partly blamed for the Autumn serge in infections but is the lockdown and threat of mandatory jabs having any impact?

Since Monday November 22nd, residents in Austria have been in lockdown for the fourth time since the start of the pandemic in spring 2020.

The Austrian Federal Government deemed the move necessary after case rates continued to rise and hospitals started filling up with Covid-19 patients – especially in the hard hit provinces of Salzburg and Upper Austria.

A reason for the explosion in cases had been put down to Austria’s low vaccination rate, which last week was one of the lowest in Europe as well as other factors such as the colder weather and the declining protection offered by the vaccines.

READ MORE: Austria bans flights from southern Africa over new Covid-19 variant

So is the lockdown working to encourage more people to get vaccinated? The data seems to suggest it is.

Covid-19 vaccination rates in Austria

On November 1st, figures show that 63.2 percent of the eligible population in Austria was fully vaccinated, 66.4 percent had received just one dose and 3.7 percent had the booster shot.

Fast forward to November 25th and 66 percent are fully vaccinated while 70.5 percent have had one dose and 17.7 percent have received the booster.

This is quite a significant increase in the first dose and booster shot figures.

READ ALSO: Why is German-speaking Europe lagging on Covid vaccines?

According to the Health Ministry, the number of vaccinations being administered in Austria in the past seven days (as of November 26th) is up by 17.7 percent on the previous week.

The chart below from Our World in Data suggests Austria’s vaccination rate has been sharply increasing since the start of November. Austria introduced a lockdown just for the unvaccinated on November 15th before extending it to the general population.

Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that in the past week Austria has administered around 10,000 Covid-19 vaccination doses every day. Two weeks ago that figure was estimated to be around 1,000 vaccinations a day.

However, Austria is still lagging behind its European neighbours, with Germany, Italy and France all registering a higher number of fully vaccinated people, as the chart below shows.

At the time of publication, none of these countries were in lockdown, although Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn was calling for “massive contract restrictions” after more than 76,000 new Covid infections were reported in one day.

As well as the national lockdown in Austria, the Federal Government also announced plans to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory from February 2022.

The announcement of Impfpflicht sparked protests in cities across Austria last weekend, but legal experts told The Local that compulsory vaccination is legally possible and likely to happen.

Will the lockdown and Impfpflicht be enough to tackle the fourth wave of Covid-19 in Austria? Only time will tell, but the data is showing a positive development so far.


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