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COVID-19 VACCINES

Why are the numbers of fully-vaccinated people going down in Austria?

Despite vaccinations continuing, Austria's percentage of fully vaccinated people is decreasing. What happened?

Why are the numbers of fully-vaccinated people going down in Austria?
A woman is vaccinated at the vaccination center in Amalienbad in Vienna, Austria, February 05, 2022. - Austria's president on February 4, 2022 signed a law making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for all adults, a first in the European Union. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

In comparisons among different countries, it is common to see that just 69 per cent of the Austrian population is “fully vaccinated.”

According to the Health Ministry, a month ago, that number was at 69.48 per cent – just yesterday, it was 69.05 per cent.

But people don’t “unvaccinate,” so why are numbers going down?

While most countries measure their Covid-19 vaccination rate by the number of people with at least two doses of a valid vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccination, Austria follows different criteria. And that has influenced its data considerably.

Unlike many other countries, Austria doesn’t present the data in terms of “people with two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.”

Instead, 69 per cent refers to the part of the population with a “valid vaccination certificate.”

Validity rules

In order to have a valid vaccination certificate, it is essential to consider the validity rules or the expiration dates of the vaccination.

Austria has a “validity calculator” that you can use to see when your doses are no longer valid.

The second vaccination against Covid (or the first one in case of recovery from the disease) is valid in Austria for a maximum of 180 days from the day it is received.

Beginning in early 2022, those who received one shot of the Janssen/Johnson&Johnson vaccine also had to get a second dose to obtain a certificate that fulfils the 2G rule.

Any additional vaccination, which currently means the third dose or booster shot, is valid for 270 days.

There are different rules for children. For 12 to 17-year-olds, the recommendation for a booster shot is six months after the primary immunisation. Children younger than 12 do not need to have a third vaccination.

The rules for entry into Austria are also different. Those with just one dose of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine are considered fully vaccinated for the purposes of travel to the country. Additionally, according to the entry regulation, the second dose is valid for 270 days from the day it is received.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are Austria’s current entry and Covid rules?

Especially since Austria has started its vaccination campaign early, expiration has been a problem for hundreds of thousands of people. So far, 456,000 Covid passes have expired in Austria, as people failed to go for their booster shot on time, Der Standard reported citing government data.

By May 1st, the Health Ministry says some 600,000 people would have to get their third dose to keep their Covid passes valid.

Austria recorded just over 15,000 third doses administered in the last seven days. The overall numbers have been going down weekly, with 8.36 per cent fewer doses administered in the last seven days than in the previous week.

With more Covid passes expiring than people taking their shots, the number associated with “fully vaccinated” has decreased in Austria.

In comparison, Germany currently has 76 per cent of its population fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Still, that number includes every second vaccination or first vaccination after recovery and every vaccination with the Janssen vaccine, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

More problems ahead

Austria is set to head into more problems as booster shots expire and a fourth dose is still not recommended. There is still no solution for expired passes in those cases.

So far, fewer than 200 people are in this situation – those would have to be the very first ones to take a booster, more than nine months ago. The Health Ministry says that it’s currently working on a solution for those cases but didn’t specify whether it would require a fourth dose or just extend the booster shots’ validity.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Austria to scrap mandatory Covid vaccinations

The European Union is trying to reach a consensus on the need for the fourth dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The European Commission should draw up a recommendation soon, Reuters reported last week.

Latest Covid numbers

From Sunday to Monday, 12,305 new infections were registered in Austria. This is below the average of the past seven days of 21,725. According to the Health Ministry, 275,956 people in Austria are actively infected with the coronavirus.

The seven-day incidence is 1,708.54. In the past 24 hours, 171,959 new PCR tests have been carried out. This results in a positive rate of 6.36 per cent.

In addition, there are 17 new deaths related to Covid-19 infection. So far, the coronavirus has claimed 16,002 deaths in Austria. There are 666 people in hospitals with the virus and 76 people in intensive care units because of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Which groups are most vaccine hesitant in Austria?

On April 3rd, only 502 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine were given in Austria; 26 were first doses, 77 were second doses, and 399 were third doses.

As a result, only 69 per cent of the total population has a valid vaccination certificate – more than 4,000 people had their certificates expired in the last 24 hours, 75.90 per cent have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 53.71 per cent have had their third dose.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contract Covid

Over the weekend, dozens of Austrian Airlines flights had to be cancelled on short notice due to staff taking sick leave after catching Covid-19.

Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contract Covid

Austrian Airlines cancelled almost 100 out of 700 planned flights to and from Vienna over the weekend after a large number of employees called in sick with Covid-19, ORF reported.

On Monday, 19 flights also had to be cancelled.

The airliner said that it has already hired 150 flight attendants to assist with the high summer months demand. It said that thunderstorms and an air traffic control strike in Marseille, France, also affected the weekend operations.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Austrian Airlines added that efforts are being made to prevent the cancellation of classic holiday flights. The affected flights are mainly local or to destinations in Europe such as Berlin, Stuttgart, Zurich, Barcelona, or Sofia.

A press spokeswoman for Austrian Airlines told the Ö1 programme that passengers would be informed immediately if their flight changed and rebooked on other flights if possible.

Nevertheless, AUA recommends its passengers check the flight status online at Austrian.com before driving to the airport.


Vienna airport reassures travellers

Austrian Airlines and the Vienna airport had reassured travellers that they were prepared for the summer, as The Local reported.

The spokesperson for the Vienna International Airport has told Austrian media that there were no issues with staff shortages. They currently have about 80 percent of personnel from before the pandemic – while passenger levels are at about 65 to 70 percent of those from 2019.

READ ALSO: Vienna airport reassures travellers over summer holiday concerns

Vienna Schwechat Airport says there were no staff cuts during the pandemic, though some workers quit and others retired.

Also, Austrian Airlines said it has hired 150 new cabin staff for the spring and summer seasons and is “ready for take-off into a summer in full operation”.

Still, both companies had alerted that problems could still arise. For example, issues with other airports were mentioned as possible causes for delays and cancellations.

READ ALSO: Will Austria see travel chaos in airports this summer?

“In Vienna, our partners and we succeeded, particularly through the instrument of short-time work, to keep as many personnel as to possible in employment. But, unfortunately, this is not the case at many other airports we also serve,” explained Austria Airlines spokeswoman Sophie Matkovits.

Covid numbers rising

Another issue is the rising Covid-19 numbers in Austria. According to the Health Ministry, a person who tests positive for Covi-19 needs to go into self-isolation for at least five days.

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

Contact cases also need to quarantine if they are suspected of being infected meaning they cannot work and many parents of children who contact Covid can also not work due to having to stay at home and look after their children.

On Sunday, Austria reported 7,093 new coronavirus infections after 80,771 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry. There were 686 people in hospitals with Covid-19 and 46 were in intensive care units.

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