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Are vaccinations compulsory for children in Austria?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Are vaccinations compulsory for children in Austria?
A child receives a vaccine. (Photo by CDC on Pexels)

Medicine in Austria can be controversial, from mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations to the use of essential oils and homoeopathy. Where does Austria stand on vaccines for children?


Austria has long recognised the critical role that vaccinations play in safeguarding public health and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. During the coronavirus pandemic, the country made headlines worldwide as it adopted a Covid-19 vaccine mandate on all people (it was never really implemented, though).

At the same time, Austrians are known for their love of natural remedies, with doctors and pharmaceutics often prescribing alternative medicines such as teas, essential oils and homoeopathy - or even a spa break.

So when it comes to vaccinations in early childhood, where does Austria stand? 

Recommended, but not mandatory

In short, vaccinations are not mandatory in Austria - but they are heavily recommended. The federal government highlights that "vaccination is one of the most important preventive measures, especially for children. Only those who are vaccinated are protected".

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However, the authorities then clarify that vaccination is not compulsory, so the decision for or against it is up to each person or the responsible adult. There are no reprimands or entry bans (in kindergartens, for example) against those who choose not to get one or more vaccines.

Still, the federal government reiterates the importance of vaccination to achieve herd immunity in a population. "This means that people who cannot be vaccinated, such as newborns or people with certain impairments of the physical defence system (immune system), are also indirectly protected," according to the official website.


Free vaccination

In order to promote vaccination, Austria has a free vaccination programme that is implemented by the provinces. The details and organisation are different for each province, and you can learn more about how the programme works in your province on each region's counselling and vaccination centres.

The national free vaccination programme is intended to provide all children living in Austria up to the age of 15 with access to vaccinations that are important for public health at no cost to their legal guardians.


Which vaccinations are recommended in early childhood?

The following immunisations, offered through the free immunisation programme, are recommended by the Health Ministry of Austria during the first two years of a child's life:

  • Vaccination against rotavirus diseases (diarrhoea with vomiting)

The oral vaccination mentioned is administered starting from the completed sixth week of life and is given in two or three partial vaccinations, depending on the specific vaccine used. There should be a minimum interval of four weeks between each dose. It is recommended to complete the vaccination series by 24 weeks, with two doses being the maximum requirement, or by 32 weeks of age for three doses, ensuring full immunisation.

  • Six-fold vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae B, hepatitis B

At three, five, and 12 months of age, vaccination with a six-dose vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, invasive Haemophilus influenzae type B, and hepatitis B is recommended.

  • Vaccination against pneumococci

This vaccination is recommended for all children and is included in the free vaccination program until the child reaches age two. Vaccinations should be administered in the third, fifth and twelfth month of life.


  • Vaccination against measles, mumps, rubella

It is recommended to administer two vaccinations starting from the completed ninth month of life. If the first vaccination is given within the first year of life, the second vaccination should be administered after a gap of three months. For the first vaccination after the first year of life, the second vaccination should be given as soon as possible, with a minimum interval of four weeks.

Vaccination can and should be obtained at any time, even in adulthood, and is currently offered free of charge at public vaccination sites for individuals of all ages.

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

  • Vaccination against influenza

Influenza vaccination is recommended for all children and adolescents and is part of the free vaccination program for children aged six months to 15 years.

Since influenza viruses undergo continuous changes, annual vaccination with an adapted vaccine is necessary. The optimal time for the yearly flu vaccination is from the end of October to mid-November. However, it can also be administered earlier or later, even when flu cases are already occurring.


For the initial influenza vaccination of children up to the age of eight or nine (depending on the vaccine), two doses should be given at an interval of four weeks (if there is sufficient vaccine availability). Afterwards, a yearly vaccination before the start of the flu season in the fall/winter is recommended. Vaccination is available in the form of a painless "nasal spray" administration for children aged two and older.


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