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What happens when I cancel my vaccine appointment in Austria?

There are different rules around cancelling your coronavirus vaccine appointment depending on which Austrian state you are booking in. Here’s what you need to know. 

What happens when I cancel my vaccine appointment in Austria?
Joe Klaram AFP

While millions of Austrians have been waiting for months to get a vaccine appointment, in some cases you may have to cancel. 

Although this may not seem to be a big deal, authorities have been taking steps to tackle the phenomenon of ‘tactical cancellation’ – i.e. where people cancel because they want to get a different vaccine to the one they are allocated. 

Therefore, in some cases people who cancel their appointment will need to go to the back of the queue. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Styria

New rules have been introduced for people who cancel Covid 19 vaccine appointments in Styria, after many people in the state repeatedly cancelled their appointments or did not show up in the hope of being rescheduled with a different choice of vaccine.

Those who cancel or do not show up for vaccine appointments twice in a row will be placed at the back of the queue, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports,

The rule attempts to stop “vaccination tacticians”, or people who cancel their appointment in the hope of getting a different vaccine on the next try.

However, not all other states have followed suit.

EXPLAINED: Can you choose which Covid 19 vaccine to take in Austria?

Carinthia

According to the APA agency in Carinthia, people who do not show up for or cancel two vaccine appointments will be deleted from the system, and will have to register again.

It says often the reason for cancellations or no shows is because many registered people, such as hospital employees, may be called in to use up leftover doses and not need their appointments.

According to a spokesman the system works well in the state and no doses have needed to be thrown away.

However, last week, people who wanted to be vaccinated gathered in large numbers outside the vaccination centres and did not wait to be called for an appointment, according to the Wiener Zeitung newspaper.  

UPDATED: How can I get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Austria?

Vienna

Vienna does not sanction anyone who repeatedly fails to attend a specific vaccination appointment in Vienna.

However, it has warned against trying to cancel in order to try and get a different vaccine.

The City of Vienna warns “you cannot choose the vaccine”. 

Tyrol 

In Tyrol, even refusing a vaccination appointment several times does not result in any penalties. People who are invited to a vaccination appointment must either accept or decline it.

If the appointment is rejected, the person remains in the system and receives a new vaccination appointment, although this could take longer.

The state told the APA agency that vaccination appointments were mostly kept. Any cancelled appointments are given to another person up to 24 hours before the appointment.

Lower Austria

In Lower Austria, people who have not kept the appointments for the corona vaccination can “simply register again” according to a Lower Austria spokesman.

They told the APA agency it was important to “vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated”. No record of cancellations or rejections of the vaccines are kept by the vaccination centres.

Salzburg

In Salzburg, people who do not attend vaccination appointments are neither blocked nor put to the back back of the queue. At the moment, over 65-year-olds are being vaccinated in Salzburg, but they are not allowed to choose their vaccine. The vaccination appointments are only given if the vaccine is actually available, a few days in advance.

If someone misses the vaccination appointment, the next person on the priority list is informed, working with resident doctors and the Red Cross.

A spokesman said cancelling vaccine appointments was not a “mass phenomenon” in Salzburg, and many people are keen to have the appointment if someone does not want the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Vorarlberg

Anyone who does not attend a vaccination appointment in Vorarlberg, for whatever reason, will be invited back to the next possible appointment.

Sometimes people do not attend appointments because they are only available at very short notice, a press office spokesman told the APA agency.

In the event of a rejection, the next person on the list is contacted, and this has worked well so far with no waste of vaccine, the spokesman reports. 

Upper Austria

State vaccination coordinator Franz Schützeneder told the Krone newspaper anyone who fails to respond to an invitation to a vaccine appointment is deleted from the system and must register again for another vaccination.

The Krone newspaper also reports 5,200 out of the 12,500 teachers and school staff who could have received vaccinations up to April 24th have not signed up for the jab, and theorises this could be because of plans to vaccinate with AstraZeneca.

Meanwhile only around 10 percent of police officers in Upper Austria have been vaccinated.

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TOURISM

EXPLAINED: Will Austria ban horse-drawn carriages?

Vienna's Fiaker - the horse-drawn carriages seen across the city's streets for centuries - are popular with tourists, but animal rights advocates say the practice is cruel, particularly as temperatures rise.

EXPLAINED: Will Austria ban horse-drawn carriages?

The image of two horses carrying a carriage full of tourists mesmerised by beautiful Austrian sights is quite a common one, particularly in Vienna.

The Fiaker, which is the Austrian name (borrowed from French) for the set of two horses, plus a carriage and coachman, are quite popular and represent an important part of Viennese history.

The first license for a Fiaker was granted in the capital around 1700. They rose in popularity before the advent of cars in the 1900s.

“They are just as much a part of Vienna as St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Giant Ferris Wheel: the fiakers”, according to the Vienna Tourist Board.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

Now, though, the symbol for the capital has become the target of controversy. For years, animal rights groups have protested against the overworking of the animals, the stressful conditions for the horses on busy Viennese roads and the extreme heat they face in summer. 

What are the main issues raised?

For years now, several animal rights groups have protested against exploiting the animals for touristic purposes.

By Vienna regulations, the horses need to be out of the streets once temperatures reach 35C. Many groups ask for the limit to be at least 30C instead.

Additionally, the temperature base is measured at the stables, in the mostly shaded areas from where the animals leave every morning to work in Vienna’s first district, where the blazing sun and scorching pavements could make temperatures higher by several degrees.

READ ALSO: Why Vienna is a haven for wild animals – and where you can find them

Another issue raised by groups is that the fiaker no longer fits in a busy 21st-century capital – with its busy roads and loud cars. They claim that walking among the many vehicles and tourists of the first district is unnecessarily stressful for the horses.

A traditional Fiaker in the Viennese first district. (photo: Amanda Previdelli / The Local)

What do the fiaker associations say?

Many representatives of the organisations reiterate that the animals are well-cared for and used to the heat.

A spokeswoman for the carriage companies asks for a round table with politicians as debates heat up, ORF reported. The veterinarian Isabella Copar, who works for two Fiaker farms, says there is no basis for the 30C regulation.

“I don’t understand that politicians make a judgment on animal welfare, even though they have no idea about the animals”, she told the broadcaster.

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Copar mentions a 2008 study by the Veterinary school of the University of Vienna saying that after nearly 400 measurements on the animals, not a single case of “heat stress” was found.

As for the infamous cases when horses have collapsed in the streets of Vienna during particularly hot days, she states that the collapses are usually due to a horse disease.

It was never possible to establish a connection with the heat. “If this happens in the stable, no one is interested,” the veterinarian said.

What is next?

The latest news in the controversy is a major one. The Health Minister, who is also Animal Protection Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens), has stated he would “welcome” a debate about a Fiaker ban.

“You should think about it, really for animal welfare reasons, whether you should expose a horse to this stress.

According to the minister, there is a question also as to whether the use of the carriages fits in the context of a large city at all. “I think that’s a bit outdated”, he said.

READ ALSO: Austria bans ‘senseless’ killing of chicks with new animal welfare rules

There is a particular tug of war between the City and the Federal Government regarding whose responsibility it is to act on a possible ban or even tighten the rules.

Both authorities are set to talk about the issue in June. They are set to also speak with the Fiaker associations.

Vienna is unlikely to see a total ban as early as that. Still, a 30C temperature limit after which the horses would need to be sent back to stables could be heading to the capital.

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