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COVID-19

Reader question: I had a non-EMA approved vaccine, how do I get 2G proof in Austria?

We have heard from dozens of people who received Covid-19 vaccines not yet approved by the EMA and plan to travel to Austria for work, studies, family visits or tourism. Here's what we know about the documents you need to get 2G proof.

Sinopharm vaccine
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Sinopharm vaccine. Photo: Luis Gandarillas/AFP

In Austria, you need proof of 2G (vaccination or recovery from Covid-19) in order to enter the country, to avoid the current lockdown (which is in place for people without 2G only), and to access many services ranging from hotels to restaurants to ski resorts.

The rules for entry are the simpler of the two. Vaccinations with approval from the EMA or from WHO are accepted, which includes Sinopharm and Covishield for example. You can see the full list here. You need at least 14 days between doses, and no more than 270 days can have passed since your most recent dose.

For domestic use, for example at hotels, restaurants and ski resorts, the rules are a bit more complicated because in general, only EMA-approved vaccines are accepted as 2G proof. But there are some workarounds. 

According to Austria’s National Vaccine Committee, people with a non-EMA approved vaccines can carry out a test for antibodies and receive a dose of an EMA-approved mRNA vaccine (that’s Pfizer or Moderna), at least one month after the previous course of vaccines. This combination is valid as 2G proof for 270 days from the date of your EMA-approved vaccine, according to the Health Ministry. It’s important to note that your mRNA vaccine will be considered a first dose in Austria, and neither this nor an antibody certificate alone is sufficient as proof as 2G, but the combination can be used in this situation.

We have heard one success story from a reader who received two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, an antibody certificate, and a booster of the Pfizer vaccine. They were able to upload their vaccination documents into Austria’s Green Pass app (but not the antibody certificate) and they were considered valid. This reader was vaccinated in Serbia, a country which has made its documents valid with the EU Covid Certificate.

We have also heard from readers who have two doses of a non-EMA approved vaccine and a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to the information currently available from the Health Ministry, it is unfortunately not clear that this would be accepted as 2G proof in Austria.

Domestically, it is the staff at the businesses you visit who have the responsibility for checking your proof of vaccination in most cases. Austrian police are also authorised to carry out checks of 2G proof.

It might be preferable if possible to get Austria’s Green Pass (or a different EU Covid Certificate) as staff will be familiar with these, and you can get foreign vaccine proofs converted by doctors for a fee. Whether this is possible will depend on the vaccines you have. This shouldn’t be necessary, though. The Health Ministry has told The Local that foreign proofs of vaccination are accepted as 2G as long as they comply with Austria’s rules, including being written in German or English and containing complete information about your vaccine, and as long as they are official in the country of issue.  

If you or a relative experience difficulties having a non-EU vaccination certificate accepted as proof of 2G in Austria, or if you are successful in getting 2G proof using a non-EMA approved vaccination, you can let us know by emailing [email protected] so that we can follow up with authorities and keep Austria’s foreign residents and visitors informed.

We have heard from one reader who had two doses of the Sputnik vaccine, an antibody certificate and one dose of Pfizer. They have travelled to and from Austria several times during the pandemic with this proof, but on one occasion the border official told them their proof was not sufficient. This reader was ultimately allowed to enter the country, and it’s worth being prepared with proof of what the government has said about non-EMA approved vaccines (for example at some of the links below) in case you are questioned.

Please note: The Local cannot issue legal or medical advice and we always recommend you speak to a doctor or health authority for medical advice.

Useful links

Coronavirus FAQ – Austrian Health Ministry (go to the question ‘Was gilt für Personen, die ihre Corona-Schutzimpfung mit einem nicht von der EMA zugelassenen COVID-19 Impfstoff erhalten haben?’)

Rules on entering Austria (Health Ministry – available in German only)

Austria’s current Covid measures (Health Ministry – available in German only)

The Austrian Tourist Board

Green Pass FAQ

Editor’s note: We have updated this article with a correction. Sputnik is not on the list of vaccines approved by WHO

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Austria announces it will scrap mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law

Austria's federal government on Thursday announced it would scrap its controversial mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law.

Austria announces it will scrap mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law

Austria will cancel its mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law, the federal government announced during a press conference on Thursday.

The controversial law had been suspended until August after coronavirus infection rates slowed. However, it hadn’t been abolished.

The government could still bring back a set of regulations allowing police to check people’s vaccinated status. Those that could not prove they were either vaccinated, or recently recovered from the disease, would have to pay a fine.

“The omicron variant changed the situation”, health minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

He added that the law was introduced in a different context and was supported by “a clear majority” at the time when hospitals were full and “intensive care units were on the limit”.

The minister said that the new variant has reduced the effectiveness of vaccination against infections and has caused less severe courses of the disease.

“Even people who are willing to vaccinate in principle are now more difficult to convince of the need for a third dose”.

Rauch said the obligation to vaccinate did not increase the take up of the Covid jab. Instead, it “opened deep trenches in Austrian society”, according to the minister.

The controversial law provoked numerous street protests throughout Austria after it was announced.

The minister said that the obligation itself even made some give up on their intent to get the jab.

Living with Covid

The new variants bring a new scenario to Austria and people will need to learn to coexist with the virus, according to the health minister.

“Living with Covid means that we will bring forward a comprehensive package of measures, and today that means the abolition of compulsory vaccination,” Rauch said.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

The minister reiterated that vaccination is essential, especially as it helps prevent hospitalisations and more severe disease courses. He added that there should be an extensive vaccination campaign before Autumn and an expected winter Covid-19 wave.

Currently, about 62 percent of the Austrian population has a valid vaccination certificate. However, the number has decreased as people fail to schedule booster, or a third-dose, appointments.

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 was purely “informational”, and Austrian residents received letters explaining vaccines and the regulation.

A second stage, when people could have been fined if 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.

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