Health Minister Anschober: From April “massive acceleration” in vaccinations

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Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) expects a “massive acceleration in the second quarter” for the Covid-19 vaccine. Following AstraZeneca’s market approval, the recommendations of the National Vaccination Panel and a corresponding decision by the Council of Ministers, the modified vaccination schedule will be made mandatory for the states by decree. As a result, one million Austrians should have received two doses and thus full protection by Easter.

As Anschober announced in a press release on Thursday, the targeted two million vaccinations are to be achieved by the beginning of April with around 1.25 million vaccine doses from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna as well as 740,000 doses from AstraZeneca.

The first shipment from the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company will arrive in Austria as early as tomorrow, Friday. 36,000 AstraZeneca doses are expected in the evening hours. “The third vaccine approved by the EMA is of very good quality. Three more deliveries are expected to take place in February, with approximately 43,000, 106,000 and 155,000 doses each,” the health minister explained.

The challenge in further developing the vaccination schedule is now to precisely allocate the respective vaccine to the respective target group, he said. Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna, respectively – both mRNA vaccines – have already been used to vaccinate employees and residents in nursing homes, category 1 healthcare workers and those over 80. “At the beginning of April, all over 80-year-olds will thus also be able to be vaccinated,” Anschober announced.

From mid-February, high-risk patients will also be increasingly vaccinated, according to the health minister. Starting as early as next week, exposed healthcare workers, mobile caregivers and people with disabilities, as well as their assistants, will be supplied with the vaccine from AstraZeneca.

Phase 2 begins in mid-March
Phase 2 of the vaccination will then start in mid-March. Then it will be the turn of 65- to 79-year-olds, for whom vaccines from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna are intended, healthcare workers in categories 3 and 4, including 24-hour caregivers and contacts of pregnant women, all of whom will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine currently reserved for people up to age 65.

From the end of March, staff in schools, kindergartens, childcare facilities, law enforcement, police and the armed forces will be targeted, and will also receive AstraZeneca doses. As things stand, vaccination of the entire population, prioritized by age and risk, is planned for the middle of the second quarter. “According to the delivery commitments we have received, we expect a massive acceleration of vaccinations in Austria in the second quarter and anticipate a total of more than five million doses for the vaccines approved to date,” Anschober noted. In addition, the health minister expected first deliveries from Johnson/Johnson and CureVac and, if necessary, from Novavax totaling another 1.2 million doses in the second quarter in the event of market approval.

“I therefore expect the implementing federal states to prepare very precisely for this real challenge of an even more intensive vaccination activity in many cases in the second quarter of the year,” Anschober emphasized. As the health minister announced, the federal government has decided to purchase 2.9 million more Moderna doses, 1.2 million of Valneva’s vaccine and 1.9 million doses of Novavax as part of the EU procurement program in order to safeguard its options for action. Especially for possible mutations, it is important that Austria also has quotas for the second half of the year for possible second generations of vaccines as a reserve, Anschober explained.

According to the minister, “the start of the largest vaccination program in Austria’s history” is developing well. According to the report, by Thursday, more than 270,000 Covid-19 vaccinations had been carried out in Austria, and 240,859 vaccinations had been entered in the E-vaccination passport at midnight. “The number of second vaccination rounds included in it has also already risen massively, reaching 39,821 this morning,” Anschober noted in conclusion.

  • Sources: diepresse.at, orf.at – press conference of the health minister/picture: pixabay.com
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