Austria announces new Covid-19 vaccination campaign

Austria's Health Ministry has budgeted €3.5 million for an information campaign looking to increase vaccination rates in the country this autumn.

Austria announces new Covid-19 vaccination campaign
Austrian health minister Johannes Rauch attends a press conference in Vienna, on June 23, 2022. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austria’s Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) presented the country’s new information campaign on Covid-19 vaccination during a press conference on Monday, September 5th.

The campaign comes at the beginning of autumn and  ahead of the colder months when respiratory infectious diseases tend to spread more quickly.

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“The new campaign is closer to the people: We supplement classic advertising with direct personal advice on site, including at doctors, in pharmacies and schools – with information weeks, information events and information material.”, Rauch said.

For that, he said the government had the support of the Chamber of Doctors and Pharmacists. The campaign also had its #GemeinsamGeimpft website (together vaccinated) revamped with more information on the vaccines.

Vaccination status in Austria

Rauch said that the campaign’s target group is the elderly and other vulnerable groups, but also young people, among whom the vaccination rate is generally low.

Currently, only 4.5 percent of the population has received a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccination – though it’s worth mentioning that the fourth shot has only recently been recommended for the general population.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

The health minister stressed the importance of the fourth dose, saying it reduces the risk of death by fourth-fifths and the risk of hospitalisation by half.

The information campaign will be conducted mainly through “counselling sessions” at doctors’ offices and pharmacies and in schools by medical professionals hosting “information evenings.”
Businesses will also be involved and 4.5 million reminders will be sent out at the end of November to all Austrians whose last vaccination was more than six months ago.

Finally, the cities and municipalities will also conduct their own information campaigns with the federal government’s support.

Should I get the booster vaccination (4th vaccination)?

The fourth vaccination has been recommended since 31 August for all persons aged 12 years and older.

It should be taken from four to six months after the third vaccination. The current vaccination scheme in Austria includes three doses for a primary immunisation for everyone older than five years old. The second dose should be taken from three to four weeks after the first.

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The third dose should be taken four to six months after the second for people older than 12 or part of the risk groups. For children from five to 11 years old, the third dose should be taken at least six months after the second. There is currently no recommendation for a booster (or fourth) Covid-19 shot for children.

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What to know about Austria’s new advice on Covid vaccines

As the coronavirus pandemic progressed, each country developed its own vaccination recommendation, which often changed. Here is the new advice from the Austrian vaccination panel.

What to know about Austria's new advice on Covid vaccines

The Austrian National Vaccination Panel has updated its recommendations on Covid vaccination on several points, the Ministry of Health announced.

“Special attention continues to be paid to the completion of the basic immunisation, which is recommended for all persons five years of age and older, and to the booster vaccination,” according to the Ministry of Health.

The booster shot is generally available to all persons 12 years of age and older and is free of charge, but it is especially recommended for persons 60 years of age and older and those at risk.

READ ALSO: Masks against Covid and flu: What’s ahead for Austria this winter

In Austria, the basic immunisation against Covid-19 consists of three vaccine doses. A fourth dose, also known as a booster shot, is also recommended.

What is new in the recommendation?

Austria is adding a new coronavirus vaccine, from Sanofi (VidPrevtyn Beta), to the list of offers against the virus. The new vaccine is protein-based and has already been approved by the European authorities. 

In Austria, the Sanofi vaccine can be used from the third vaccination onwards on people older than 18. The offer will be available at the vaccination sites in the coming week at the earliest, according to the Ministry. 

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

Another change is that the variant Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 from BioNTech/Pfizer will also be used for the third vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years. 

This vaccine is specially adapted to the virus variants Omicron BA.4 and 5. It is now available for children in a special application shot that should be in vaccination sites starting next week at the earliest. 

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Also included in the recommendations is a clarification specifically on an additional booster vaccination (fifth vaccination). 

People at risk from the age of 18, and those from the age of 60 can receive the additional booster vaccination four months after the fourth vaccination. According to the vaccination panel, no fifth vaccination is necessary for healthy people under 60.