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COVID-19 VACCINES

Vienna rolls out special vaccinations for the ‘needle-phobic’

While few of us actually like needles, for the needle-phobic a vaccination can be literally terrifying.

People queue for a vaccine against Covid in Vienna. The Austrian capital is taking steps to make it easier for those with a phobia of needles to get the jab. ALEX HALADA / AFP
People queue for a vaccine against Covid in Vienna. The Austrian capital is taking steps to make it easier for those with a phobia of needles to get the jab. ALEX HALADA / AFP

Vienna has created a special vaccination offer for people who are afraid of needles.

Those anxious about being jabbed can be injected in a redesigned sauna area in the Brigittenau indoor pool which has been designed with comfortable seating and planting to create an atmosphere which will soothe people’s nerves.

The centre is accessed by a private door and you will not have to queue with others. Specially trained staff will also be there to ease nerves, including doctors and psychologists, who will wear street clothes, and will not wear gloves.

The offer is intended to help people who are phobic about needles and injections, but could also be used by those who experience strong conflicting views about vaccination in their communities.

The scheme is one of several steps the Austrian government has taken to remove the barriers to vaccination. 

Another vaccine, Novavax, will be rolled out in late February. 

Currently, more than 31,300 Austrians have registered for a vaccination with Novavax.

Austria has ordered 750,000 doses of the vaccine for the first quarter of 2022.

READ MORE: When will the Novavax vaccine be available in Austria?

It is hoped some people who currently refuse to be vaccinated may be persuaded to with the new vaccine, which is a protein subunit vaccine, using different technology to the mRNA and vector vaccines previously approved in the EU.

Approximately 69 percent of the Austrian population has been vaccinated against Covid-19, which is lower than most of western Europe. 

Austria approved a compulsory vaccination mandate in February, with penalties for those who remain unvaccinated to be rolled out in mid-March. 

EXPLAINED: How Austria’s vaccine mandate will work

The likely penalties include fines, with the Austrian government ruling out imprisonment for those who refuse to get vaccinated. 

For more information on the program, call the free phone number 01/4000-53000, which is open daily from 8.00 to 20:00.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Which groups are most vaccine hesitant in Austria?

The vaccination rate in Austria varies between different socio-economic groups in the country, as new data from Statistics Austria shows. Just under 69 percent of the population are considered fully vaccinated.

Which groups are most vaccine hesitant in Austria?

In total, 78 percent of the Austrian population have some form of protection against the virus because 14 percent have had a confirmed Covid infection, most of whom were not vaccinated.

Vaccination rates are higher among people born in Austria, at 70.4 percent, than those born outside Austria, at 64.4 percent (although it’s worth noting that Austria does not currently recognise some vaccines used in other countries, including notably the Sputnik vaccine used widely in Russia and neighbouring Hungary for example).

OPINION: Austria’s vaccine mandate is politically high-risk with limited benefits

But there are also significant differences among international residents depending on country of origin.

People born in the Czech Republic (74 percent vaccination rate), Germany (73.1 percent), Afghanistan (73 percent) and Italy (71.1 percent) were all more likely than native Austrians to be vaccinated, while eight countries had vaccination rates below 60 percent: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Russia and Romania.

Again, the use of different vaccinations in these countries likely plays a role as several foreign residents travelled to their home countries to get the Covid vaccine. Statistics Austria also notes: “The proportion of children and young people among non-Austrian nationals is higher than among people born abroad” and that children have a lower vaccination rate.

EXPLAINED: How to claim your 100 euro vaccination bonus in Austria

There was also a link between level of education and vaccination willingness. Among people of working age (25 to 64), the rate of vaccination was just below 82 percent for those with a university degree, compared to 69% for those whose highest level of education was completing compulsory education.

The statistics also show that people who are employed have a higher vaccination rate at 76 percent than people who are unemployed, at 71 percent. 

People working in international organisations (such as embassies or the UN) had the highest vaccination rate at 84.6 percent, followed by those working in information and communication (83.4 percent), public administration (82.1 percent) and finance or insurance (81.8 percent). The professions with the lowest rate of vaccination were construction (67.6 percent), agriculture and forestry (69.6 percent) and working in private households (69.7 percent).

Vaccination rates were higher among older age groups, with rates above 80 percent for over-60s, and between 70 to 80 percent for people aged between 15 and 59.

And the statistics showed that 42 percent of children aged 10 to 14 had received the Covid-19 vaccine, along with 18.4 percent of those aged five to nine. Around 20 percent of children in these age groups had been infected with Covid and not vaccinated, likely leaving them with some level of protection against the virus.

At the start of the month Austria became the first EU country to introduce a law making vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory. However, it has not yet started issuing fines or carrying out checks on vaccine status, and it looks increasingly unlikely that this will happen as the country plans to remove most Covid measures from March 5th.

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