Long lines in Viennese vaccination centres led to people having to wait one and a half to two hours to get the coronavirus jab, according to reports in Austria media.
Some people were told to get vaccinated elsewhere due to the high demand.
Broadcaster ORF said that the surge in demand comes just after the city of Vienna simplified the access to the fourth Covid vaccination. As a result, people can get the shot after four months of the third dose without the need for registration or appointment.
With increasing coronavirus numbers ahead of the summer holidays, the search for the vaccine has also risen. While about 300 people were vaccinated daily less than two weeks ago, about 1,300 people went every day at the weekend, the report said.
Health authorities recommend people make an appointment even though they are not required to. “With an appointment, it’s easier for us to plan, and there is also a separate area for people with appointments”, Susanne Drapalik, chief physician at the Samaritan League, told reporters.
The Austrian capital will also extend the opening hours of the vaccination centres to meet demand.
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Who should receive a second booster?
Austria’s GECKO crisis coordinator Katharina Reich and Health Minister Rauch are now calling for vulnerable people to get vaccinated in light of the rising number of corona cases.
“We won’t have any peace in the summer. There is no stability. Vulnerable groups should get vaccinated now and again in the autumn. Everyone else who has already been vaccinated three times should get boosters around eight weeks before the autumn wave,” Reich told Austrian media.
Currently, Austria’s National Vaccination Committee (NIG) has recommended a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but only for those deemed at risk of serious illness.
The NIG identifies risk groups as people over 80 and those between the ages of 65 and 79 with a weakened immune system or existing health conditions.
The committee is considering lowering the recommended age to 65, even for people with no other health conditions.
In Vienna, the fourth dose can already be given off-label to persons over the age of 65 or to anyone who wants to take it after a medical individual risk-benefit assessment.
Clinical pharmacologist Markus Zeitlinger, from MedUni Vienna, told Kurier that he believes anyone who wants maximum immune protection at all times should get a vaccination now – children excluded. He said since there will be a summer wave, people shouldn’t wait to get protected.
He said there is medically no reason not to get vaccinated in June, and then again as early as October.
If you have had three vaccinations and had an infection confirmed by PCR test, then no further vaccination is currently recommended.