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Covid-19 vaccines in Austria: When will I be able to book my appointment ?  

Lower Austria has announced all age groups will be able to login and book an appointment to be vaccinated on May 10th. So when will this be possible in the rest of Austria? 

A patient entering a vaccination booth at a vaccination centre in Vienna, Austria. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP
A patient entering a vaccination booth at a vaccination centre in Vienna, Austria. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Lower Austria will allow everyone to register to be vaccinated on May 10th

The registration in Lower Austria will begin with over 50s on May 3rd, broadcaster ORF reports. On May 5th, those in their 40s can register, on May 7th,  everyone in their 30s and from May 10th, everyone aged over 16. Lower Austria’s vaccination coordinator estimates around 65 percent of the population will be willing to be vaccinated.

READ MORE: Lower Austria first state to start vaccinating all members of the public

Upper Austria could open up registration to all ‘by end of May’

According to the Wiener Zeitung newspaper Upper Austria only wants to make its vaccination offers available to everyone when everyone aged over 50 has been vaccinated. This is expected to be at the end of May, according to Deputy Governor Christine Haberlander. Vaccine deliveries are only confirmed two weeks ahead, making it difficult to create long-term plans, she added. 

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

Burgenland vaccinates volunteer firefighters

Burgenland also has no plans to activate registration for the corona vaccination for everyone over 16. The next group will be volunteer firefighters. More than 17,000 will soon receive an invitation, Governor Hans Peter Doskozil said on Thursday. Next Saturday, May 1st, the 100,000th vaccination will be administered in Burgenland, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports .

Carinthia, Salzburg and Vorarlberg continue to plan ‘week by week’

Salzburg and Vorarlberg are continuing to plan their vaccination rollout ‘week by week’ according to the Der Standard newspaper, and have not set a date to open up registration to all age groups. 

In terms of the number of first coronavirus vaccinations given, Salzburg is still in last place in a comparison with Austria’s other federal states. Just 20.54 percent of its population has been jabbed, Wiener Zeitung  newspaper reports. 

However, according to deputy governor Christian Stöckl this is because many key workers in the state live outside Salzburg in Upper Austria and Bavaria, creating “statistical distortions”.  

Gerd Kurath told APA on Thursday that younger age groups would have their turn by summer in Carinthia. 

Styria – will stick to registration for priority groups 

In Styria it will also not be possible for all age groups to register for a vaccination, but doctor’s surgeries will start sending out emails or SMS messages with online links allowing  people to choose a vaccination appointment online in mid May.  These e-mail invitations will be sent to people who match the priorities of the national vaccination plan, such as age or certain previous illnesses, and only when delivery of the vaccine is confirmed by the state, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. 

If an appointment is canceled twice in Styria by the person wanting to be vaccinated, people are sent to the “back of the queue”.

UPDATED: How to register for the Covid-19 vaccine in your Austrian state

Vienna – registration for all groups not possible ‘until the summer’

In Vienna registration for all groups is not planned for the near future. Vienna’s City Councilor for Health Peter Hacker (SPÖ) told the Ö1 “Morgenjournal” on Thursday he did not want to make appointments unless he was sure the vaccine deliveries would arrive.  He pointed out in Vienna at the beginning of April there was one week in which there were no deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccine and said registrations will not be possible for all age groups until summer at the earliest. 

One sore point is that 60,689 health care workers, school and kindergarten staff from Lower Austria and Burgenland were vaccinated in Vienna, which means Vienna is “missing” 40,949 vaccination doses, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reported. 

Discussions about vaccine compensation are already being held in the Ministry of Health.

However, many essential workers in supermarkets and essential retail shops will soon get the chance to get a jab, if company vaccination starts as planned in May. Companies in line to receive vaccines directly from the federal government could include Porr, Post, ÖBB, OMV and A1 Telekom Austria, as well as supermarket chains, Vienna Airport, Magna and Erste Group, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.

Tyrol will soon start vaccinating people aged over 50 

Tyrol has almost finished vaccinating everyone over 65 years of age and its high-risk population,  Health Director Thomas Pollak said on Wednesday according to broadcaster ORF. The region will soon begin vaccinating people aged over 50. The state of Tyrol does not want to allow people to book appointments far in advance, in case deliveries fail, and appointments have to be cancelled the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. 

 

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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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