Vienna pushed ahead last weekend and opened the third vaccination, which until then was largely only possible for the elderly and risk groups after six months, to the general population. It was an anticipation of the adapted recommendation of the National Vaccination Committee, in which, also in view of the current epidemiological development in Austria, the circle of recipients of the third stitch was significantly expanded. For the federal states, this means another Herculean organizational task. Because the vaccination centers were largely dismantled.
So far, 385,000 people in Austria have received a third vaccination. These were mainly people in the health and care sector and the very elderly, i.e. all those who were vaccinated very early on. What was previously usually referred to as a refresher or “booster” is now seen by experts as the third part of basic immunization. It is also not uncommon that after two vaccinations a few weeks apart, a third one has to be given after six months in order to build up lasting immunity. This is also the recognized vaccination scheme for the classic tick vaccination and hepatitis B vaccination.
By opening up access to virtually everyone aged six months and over, almost a million people are now entitled to get a third stitch, and a third already have it. In addition, there are more than 300,000 who were vaccinated with the single-use vaccine from Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). The Delta variant has reduced the effectiveness of this vaccine to such an extent that this group is urged to be vaccinated again. Around 100,000 were vaccinated with Janssen in Vienna alone.
Most of the currently possible recipients of a third vaccination have received the active ingredient from Biontech / Pfizer. This was the first vaccine to be approved, and AstraZeneca quickly chose a significantly longer interval of twelve weeks between the first two partial vaccinations.
This now means that so far only just under 35,000 AstraZeneca vaccinated people fall within the six-month period. In its current recommendation, however, the vaccination committee allows the third trick to be brought forward under certain conditions. A few are listed as examples, and one of these exceptions is vaccination with AstraZeneca.
Third pricks six months ago are also possible
It literally says: “Falling below the recommended vaccination interval of six months makes sense in justified exceptional cases (e.g. before starting a longer trip, if there is a particularly high risk of exposure, if the first two vaccinations with AstraZeneca etc.) and can be done after appropriate information and documentation (off label). “
As a general recommendation to stay below the six months at AstraZeneca, Herwig Kollaritsch, member of the vaccination committee, does not want this to be understood. “It’s an exception,” he says. “Man can do it, but it depends on the respective situation. “It is different whether you as a teacher stand in front of many unvaccinated children every day or have only a few contacts, says Kollaritisch. He also points out that at AstraZeneca after about four months the effectiveness against symptomatic infections drops significantly, but that against severe courses remains quite stable.
In view of the current almost 10,000 cases on Friday, the infection process is now mixed into the fundamental consideration of one’s own exposure and any risk factors that may be present. By the beginning of December, 250,000 people vaccinated with AstraZeneca would fall within the six-month period. So wait a couple of weeks now? The expert Kollaritsch demands flexibility here. A few weeks up or down are not fundamentally decisive, but the approval for the third sting with the two mRNA vaccines only allows delivery after six months. “And the doctors adhere very closely to the recommendations for use.”
Off-label vaccination is tricky for doctors because they can sometimes be liable for serious side effects. At least 120 days, i.e. four months, must pass between the second and third vaccination for the sting to be counted as a third sting, which is important for the Green Passport. After all, 605,000 people who were vaccinated with AstraZeneca had the second bite at least four months ago.
In the past three weeks around 400,000 people in Austria have received a Covid vaccination, 120,000 of them a first sting, 180,000 a third. In the coming weeks there should be more of all of them, i.e. more first stitches, more third stitches. It is the policy tool of choice in the fight against Delta. More than 1.5 million people would be eligible to have their immunity boosted by Christmas.
In Vienna with and without an appointment for the third stitch
For the federal states, this means another organizational challenge, sooner than expected. Vienna did not even dismantle the large vaccination center at Uni-City, a total of 34 locations are available to the Viennese. For example, vaccinations are also carried out in some district offices and in the checkboxes, sometimes with and sometimes without an appointment. Those who do not register in advance (by phone via 1450 or online) have to expect waiting times. Vienna manages 35,000 vaccinations per day.
In Lower Austria, the vaccination buses now run seven days a week, and vaccinations are carried out in 500 ordinations. Starting up vaccination centers again is difficult, according to the vaccination coordinator’s office, as the event halls are mostly occupied – unlike in spring. But there will be Impfstraßen in shopping centers and, like in Vienna, they will go with and without an appointment.
In Salzburg, on the other hand, there is more emphasis on the established sector. Every citizen who was registered on the country’s vaccination platform receives an automatic reminder for the third stitch by SMS, phone call or email. If you have not registered on the platform and have been vaccinated first and second by your family doctor, your family doctor is responsible for you again. “That also best meets the need for advice on vaccination,” says the country.