/ Impfservice 9 COVID-19

Important information

Since 1 July 2023, COVID-19 is no longer a notifiable disease in Austria and, hence, no longer comes under the pandemic management tasks of public health authorities. Rather, it is now part of the basic healthcare scheme, which means that COVID-19 vaccinations are a task handled by doctors in their surgeries. There are two ways of getting a COVID-19 vaccination:

  1. Book an appointment at one of the participating doctor’s surgeries. An overview of all doctors offering COVID-19 vaccinations in Vienna can be found here: https://www.aekwien.at/impfordinationen
  2. Book an appointment with one of the healthcare centres of the Austrian Public Health Insurance Fund (Österreichische Gesundheitskasse, ÖGK). An overview of all ÖGK healthcare centres can be found here: https://www.gesundheitskasse.at/cdscontent/?contentid=10007.867899

Moreover, the City of Vienna also offers additional vaccination services. As soon as appointment slots are available, you can book an appointment online.

Combined vaccination (COVID-19 and influenza)

From 2 to 24 November, the Public Health Services of the City of Vienna offer combined vaccinations providing protection against COVID-19 and influenza for persons aged 5 years and older at Impfservice Town Town (Thomas-Klestil-Platz 8/2, 1030 Vienna). Please note that you have to pay a cost contribution of € 7.00 for the influenza vaccination. The vaccination is free of charge for children and young people (up to their 18th birthday) as well as for persons exempted from paying prescription fees.

What are the recommended intervals between (booster) shots?

From autumn 2023, only XBB.1.5-adapted vaccines are recommended for COVID-19 vaccinations. For most people, one booster shot of this vaccine is sufficient to ensure optimum protection.

After a minimum interval of 6 months from the last vaccination or infection, a single-dose booster shot is recommended for all persons interested in having good protection. Persons aged 60 years and older as well as certain risk groups, such as immunocompromised persons, can be vaccinated earlier (after 4 months). However, even for these individuals, a minimum interval of 4 months after the previous vaccination or infection should be observed.

Getting vaccinated during or after an infection that is not recognised as such does not cause any problems.
If, as may happen in a few cases, a person has never been in contact with the virus (through infection and/or vaccination) and, hence, is now vaccinated for the first time, this can be done with an XBB-1.5-adapted vaccine according to the basic immunisation schedule.

Overview table of COVID-19 vaccination schedules for children and adults without/with risk factors as well as indications according to the Vaccination Plan.

What is the COVID-19 disease?

COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease-2019) is a highly contagious viral disease whose symptoms can be slight to severe. In case of a mild course of the infection, the symptoms resemble those of a common cold. Persons presenting with at least one of the following symptoms are classified as potentially infected:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • sore throat
  • difficulty in breathing
  • sudden loss of the sense of taste or smell

In serious cases, an infection with SARS-CoV-2 may lead, among other complications, to severe breathing difficulties and pneumonia and even to death. Other consequences of the disease that have been observed include pathological changes in the liver, central nervous system, kidneys, blood vessels and heart.

Transmission mainly occurs when particles containing the virus are inhaled. One can distinguish between fine particles (aerosols) and larger droplets. For this reason, the infection is also called “droplet infection”.

Aerosols are emitted when breathing or speaking; coughing and sneezing additionally produce larger droplets. While droplets quickly sink to the grounds, aerosols – which are much smaller – can remain in the air for a longer period and spread indoors.

COVID-19 vaccination advice

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 protects you against a severe course of the disease and reduces the risk of infection and potential long-term effects. With a COVID-19 vaccination, you help to better protect vulnerable population groups (also among your relatives and friends) as well as to ease the pressure on our Austrian healthcare system.

Vaccination advice for children under the age of 5 years

The vaccine marketing authorisation specifies that, principally, every person over the age of 6 months who would like to get protection against COVID-19 can be vaccinated. Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is in particular recommended for all young children attending a kindergarten or other type of childcare facility. After consideration of the individual situation and surroundings, getting vaccinated may be advisable.

Getting vaccinated is in any case recommended for

  • babies from 6 months of age and children, young people and adults with an increased risk of contracting a severe COVID-19 infection, e.g. because of a chronic condition or immunosuppression

Children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Please note that the final decision on whether a child will receive a COVID-19 vaccination lies with the attending doctor.

Vaccination advice for children aged 5 years and older, young people and adults

The vaccine marketing authorisation specifies that, principally, every person aged between 5 and 11 years who would like to get protection against COVID-19 can be vaccinated with the XBB.1.5-adapted vaccine for children. The XBB.1.5-adapted vaccine is recommended for all children with an increased risk of contracting a severe infection with COVID-19 because of a chronic condition or immunosuppression.

Basic immunisation
Since autumn 2023, one single-dose vaccination with the XBB.1.5-adapted vaccine by BioNTech/Pfizer is sufficient irrespective of the number of previously administered vaccine doses or infections.

However, persons with severe immunodeficiency or immunosuppression require special vaccination schedules (basic immunisation schedule 3+1). Additional boosters may be necessary depending on individual requirements, which must be clarified in consultation with the attending doctor.

Booster shot
A single-dose booster with the XBB.1.5-adapted vaccine by BioNTech/Pfizer is recommended for all persons who would like to get protection against COVID-19. It is recommended at an interval of 6 months after basic immunisation for all persons with an increased risk of contracting a severe infection with COVID-19 because of e.g. a chronic condition or immunosuppression.

Persons with severe immunodeficiency or immunosuppression require special vaccination schedules (basic immunisation schedule 3+1). Additional boosters may be necessary depending on individual requirements, which must be clarified in consultation with the attending doctor.

Information and advice

We are at your disposal if you have any questions before getting a COVID-19 vaccination and prefer a one-on-one consultation.

Book an appointment online or by calling the Vaccination Service of the City of Vienna (Impfservice der Stadt Wien) at +43 1 1450.

If no free appointment slots are available, you can get vaccinated at one of the doctor’s surgeries administering COVID-19 vaccinations (PDF).

FAQ

 

From what age can a COVID-19 vaccination be administered?

The vaccine marketing authorisation specifies that, principally, every person over the age of 6 months who would like to get protection against COVID-19 can be vaccinated.

  • Babies and young children from 6 months of age to their 5th birthdaywho were never before vaccinated against or infected with COVID-19 should be given three shots of the XBB.1.5-adapted vaccine (3 micrograms). The second shot should be administered 3 weeks after the first, and the third shot should be administered at least 8 weeks after the second.
    • For young children from 6 months of age to their 5th birthday who were previously vaccinated against COVID-19 or had an infection, one single dose of the XBB.1.5-adapted vaccine is sufficient.
  • Children aged 5 to 11 years are vaccinated against COVID-19 with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine for children.
  • The Nuvaxovid vaccine by Novavax is administered to persons aged 12 years and older.

Please note that children under 14 years of age can only be vaccinated if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The final decision regarding the selection of a specific vaccine for a COVID-19 vaccination lies with the attending doctor.

I have recovered from a COVID-19 infection. Should I get vaccinated all the same?

Yes, even if you have already overcome an infection, you should get vaccinated after your recovery. For healthy persons, a minimum interval of 6 months after the previous infection is recommended. Certain groups at risk (persons aged 60 years and older, immunocompromised persons) can be vaccinated earlier (after 4 months). However, even for these individuals, a minimum interval of 4 months after the previous vaccination or infection should be observed.

Getting vaccinated during or after an infection that is not recognised as such does not cause any problems.

From what age can I have my child vaccinated against COVID-19?

The vaccine marketing authorisation specifies that, principally, every person over the age of 6 months who would like to get protection against COVID-19 can be vaccinated. Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is in particular recommended for all young children attending a kindergarten or other type of childcare facility. After consideration of the individual situation and surroundings, getting vaccinated may be advisable.

Which vaccines are used?

At the moment, the following vaccines are administered in Austria:

Future vaccinations will use the XBB.1.5-adapted vaccines by BioNTech/Pfizer, since they offer the best protection against common variants and are recommended according to the Austrian Vaccination Plan for 2023/24.

On a person’s express request and depending on availability at the place of vaccination, the following vaccines may also be given:
• BioNtech/Pfizer
• BioNtech/Pfizer BA.4/5 bivalent
• BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine for children (10 micrograms/dose)
• BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine for babies and toddlers (3 micrograms/dose)
• Moderna (Spikevax)
• Moderna BA.1 bivalent (Spikevax BA.1 bivalent)
• and Novavax (Nuvaxovid)

These are administered depending on medical recommendations, age-related requirements and availability.

Are there any side effects?

No severe or undesired side effects were observed in the approval studies conducted for all vaccines worldwide. After vaccination, a feeling of heat, redness and soreness may occur at the injection site. These injection-site reactions are relatively frequent and can be observed in 8 of 10 vaccinated persons. While such side effects may be slightly unpleasant, they are harmless and disappear after a few days. In any case, it is recommended that you keep an eye on your health status after vaccination. However, if any side effects persist or appear all of a sudden (such as dizziness, headache, impaired vision, difficulty in breathing, pain in the arms or legs, etc.), you should seek immediate medical attention to clarify whether a thrombosis has occurred.

All risks and very rare severe side effects – such as thromboses – recorded in EU-wide and international observational studies are promptly included by the EMA (European Medicines Agency) in the package information leaflets containing information about the vaccines for both patients and prescribing doctors; they are also taken account of in the vaccination recommendations of the National Vaccination Board (Nationales Impfgremium, NIG) for Austria.

Hence, the benefits of the recommended vaccinations against COVID-19 disease, which may have severe or lasting after-effects, clearly outweigh the risks of vaccination.