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COVID-19 VACCINES

Which groups are most vaccine hesitant in Austria?

The vaccination rate in Austria varies between different socio-economic groups in the country, as new data from Statistics Austria shows. Just under 69 percent of the population are considered fully vaccinated.

Which groups are most vaccine hesitant in Austria?
A health worker prepares a syringe with the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine by Biontech-Pfizer. Photo: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

In total, 78 percent of the Austrian population have some form of protection against the virus because 14 percent have had a confirmed Covid infection, most of whom were not vaccinated.

Vaccination rates are higher among people born in Austria, at 70.4 percent, than those born outside Austria, at 64.4 percent (although it’s worth noting that Austria does not currently recognise some vaccines used in other countries, including notably the Sputnik vaccine used widely in Russia and neighbouring Hungary for example).

OPINION: Austria’s vaccine mandate is politically high-risk with limited benefits

But there are also significant differences among international residents depending on country of origin.

People born in the Czech Republic (74 percent vaccination rate), Germany (73.1 percent), Afghanistan (73 percent) and Italy (71.1 percent) were all more likely than native Austrians to be vaccinated, while eight countries had vaccination rates below 60 percent: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Russia and Romania.

Again, the use of different vaccinations in these countries likely plays a role as several foreign residents travelled to their home countries to get the Covid vaccine. Statistics Austria also notes: “The proportion of children and young people among non-Austrian nationals is higher than among people born abroad” and that children have a lower vaccination rate.

EXPLAINED: How to claim your 100 euro vaccination bonus in Austria

There was also a link between level of education and vaccination willingness. Among people of working age (25 to 64), the rate of vaccination was just below 82 percent for those with a university degree, compared to 69% for those whose highest level of education was completing compulsory education.

The statistics also show that people who are employed have a higher vaccination rate at 76 percent than people who are unemployed, at 71 percent. 

People working in international organisations (such as embassies or the UN) had the highest vaccination rate at 84.6 percent, followed by those working in information and communication (83.4 percent), public administration (82.1 percent) and finance or insurance (81.8 percent). The professions with the lowest rate of vaccination were construction (67.6 percent), agriculture and forestry (69.6 percent) and working in private households (69.7 percent).

Vaccination rates were higher among older age groups, with rates above 80 percent for over-60s, and between 70 to 80 percent for people aged between 15 and 59.

And the statistics showed that 42 percent of children aged 10 to 14 had received the Covid-19 vaccine, along with 18.4 percent of those aged five to nine. Around 20 percent of children in these age groups had been infected with Covid and not vaccinated, likely leaving them with some level of protection against the virus.

At the start of the month Austria became the first EU country to introduce a law making vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory. However, it has not yet started issuing fines or carrying out checks on vaccine status, and it looks increasingly unlikely that this will happen as the country plans to remove most Covid measures from March 5th.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Reader question: When should I get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Austria?

Austria's national vaccination board changed the recommendations for when to get the fourth dose of coronavirus vaccines. Here's what you need to know.

Reader question: When should I get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Austria?

Over this weekend, Austria’s national vaccination board (NIG) released an updated recommendation on Covid-19 immunisation, changing its previous guidance for the fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccination slightly.

According to the NIG, booster vaccinations can be given to persons aged 12 years and older and are recommended for anyone who wants to protect themselves.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get the new adapted Covid-19 vaccine in Austria

In particular, the 4th vaccination is advised for persons over 60 years of age, persons at risk of severe disease progression (including pregnant women) and persons with an increased risk of exposure (healthcare workers, people in long-term nursing or care facilities, etc.).

The recommended interval between the third and fourth doses is from six months for people between 12 and 59 years old, NIG said. For those over 60 or risk patients, that interval is from 4 months.

What has changed then?

The main difference is the recommendation for those who have had a Covid-19 infection after their third shot.

“An infection in vaccinated persons usually leads to a booster effect (hybrid immunity), which can affect the optimal timing of the next vaccination.”, NIG said.

However, the board specified that infection could only be “counted” after it was confirmed with a PCR test.

READ ALSO: Austria announces new Covid-19 vaccination campaign

So, if you have had a PCR-confirmed infection after your second or third shot and it was an asymptomatic case, you may follow the regular vaccination scheme. However, you can also postpone your vaccination for up to six months.

If you had a symptomatic case, you may postpone your next dose for up to six months only if you are younger than 60 and not of a risk group.

NIG said: “Persons vaccinated three times who have also had a proven omicron infection show a good booster response and cross-immunity”.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

It added: In such cases, especially in persons under 60 years of age, the 4th vaccination within a period of up to 6 months does not achieve any further improvement in immune protection and thus, the 4th vaccination can be postponed accordingly.

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