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HEALTH

Women in Austria warned of defective contraceptives

More than 28,000 Eurogine intrauterine devices (IUD) have been sold in Austria, but only around 1,000 women have come forward so far, according to Austria's consumer protection watchdog.

Women in Austria warned of defective contraceptives
Thousands of women could have received defective IUDs in Austria (photo: unsplash)

Women in Austria who use the contraceptive IUD (in German, Verhütungsspirale) of the Spanish medical manufacturer Eurogine have been asked to consult with their doctors, as approximately 68 percent of the devices are defective, Austrian media reported.

The intrauterine device, also known as intrauterine contraceptive device or coil, are made of gold and copper, but a material defect has made it so that the “arms” of the IUD break off unnoticed or during removal. This, of course, affects the efficacy of the contraceptive, and its sharp parts can cause considerable pain. Surgery to remove the IUD parts may be necessary.

READ ALSO: Spas, pregnancy and contraceptives: What Austrian healthcare covers – and what it does not

The Austrian Consumer Protection Association (VSV) has alerted that 28,502 devices of the manufacturer were sold in the country – calculating that 19,000 women could be affected. It is also suing the Republic of Austria for failing to alert people.

According to VSV, the manufacturer Eurogine had already known about the material defect in February 2018 but only published safety information in 2019, when countries such as Germany and Spain informed the public. In France, there was a ban on the product’s sale in addition to a recall, Der Standard reported.

READ ALSO: Seven bizarre health tips Austrians swear by

In Austria, however, the authorities took longer to inform medical specialists, and in 2020 there were still women using and being implanted with the defective IUDs. Austria’s Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) is also being criticised for publishing only a warning on its website and not following up with press releases.

“There should have been a warning,” VSV’s chairperson Daniela Holzinger-Vogtenhuber said.

So far, around 1,4000 victims from Austria, Germany and Switzerland have contacted VSV. The institution assisted them with individual lawsuits and started a crowdfunding campaign with the women’s association Soroptimist Austria to help cover legal costs.

READ ALSO: ‘Taboo in Austrian society’: How women still face barriers accessing abortion

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HEALTH

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian doctors and virologists have warned of a particularly strong flu wave this winter and recommend that people get vaccinated. Here's how to get the shot in each province.

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian experts have said there would likely be an exceptionally high wave of the flu after hardly any cases were registered in the past two years. The measures against Covid-19 prevented infections with Sars-CoV-2 – and curbed the spread of influenza and other cold viruses.

This is about to change this season as Covid measures were relaxed and airborne viruses spread again, they said.

In principle, the influenza vaccination protects against symptomatic infection for four months: “About 80 percent for H1 viruses, about 50 to 60 percent for H3 strains and 60 to 70 percent for B viruses,” said Monika Redlberger-Fritz, a virologist from Med-Uni Vienna.

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

She added: “But even with vaccine breakthroughs, you are still very well protected against complications, hospitalisations and death.”

Unlike the Covid-19 vaccination, the flu jab is not organised by the federal government but by the respective provinces, which file a report only after the flu season. In every province, the vaccine is free for children, but many ask adults to pay for a fee or get it from their doctors. In Vienna, the flu vaccination is free for everyone.

Here is how to get the vaccine in each province in campaigns carried out with the participation or knowledge of the government – companies and private insurance institutions can also start their own vaccination campaigns.

Vienna

Vienna offers free flu vaccinations for every resident. You can register online with the impfservice.wien or visit one of the centres that accept people without appointments (for example, the Austria Center Vienna). 

All that is necessary is for you to bring a document with your picture and wear an FFP2 mask. If you have an e-card and a vaccination passport, bring those with you as well. There is also a form to fill out, but those are available on-site.  

Lower Austria

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to 15-years-old, and they can get the shot from established medical specialists. For those who are older, it is possible to receive the vaccination from a registered specialist, company medical service or from their employer, but they may be charged for it.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Upper Austria

Children aged six months to 15 can get the vaccine for free with their general practitioners and paediatricians. However, you may need to get the vaccine components at the pharmacy with a voucher and register with your doctor.

Older people can get the vaccination directly at vaccination sites in their district for €15. Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Styria

In Styria, children from six months to age 15 get the vaccine for free with paediatricians or public health services of their district authorities.  Older adults can get it from the public health service for €16 or €27 if they are older than 65. 

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Carinthia

Children (from six months to 15 years) can get the vaccine for free in doctor’s offices or public health centres. You can check HERE for more information and register. For older people, the price is €22, though prices could be different if you go to your doctor instead of a vaccination centre.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Burgenland

Children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free in pharmacies and with their physicians. At-risk patients older than that can also get free vaccines, but only while supplies last. 

Otherwise, buying and paying for the vaccine in a pharmacy or with your general practitioner is possible. There are also free vaccinations in elderly and care homes. 

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Salzburg

Children from six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with any doctor offering it. You can check with your family doctor or paediatrician. Anyone over 15 that wants to get it needs to buy it at a pharmacy (prices vary depending on the vaccine used) and can ask their family doctor. 

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Salzburg HERE.

Tyrol

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to the age of 15 years, and they can get it directly from their doctor (a general practitioner or a paediatrician, for example). For those older, it’s possible to vaccinate with their family doctors, but prices vary for the product and pharmacies and the doctor’s fee. 

Residents of elderly and nursing homes aged 60 and over get the vaccination free of charge.

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Tyrol HERE.

Vorarlberg

In Vorarlberg, children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with their doctors. Adults can also get it from general practitioner’s offices but will need to pay variable costs (depending on doctor fees and which vaccine they choose).

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Vorarlberg HERE.

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