Rush to vaccination centers in Austria

BLow autumn leaves and bright sunshine invited people to go on excursions into nature at the weekend in Austria. But surprisingly many had other goals: the vaccination centers. Where the influx has been sparse since summer, there is suddenly a rush again. The neighbor, who has already picked up the third “stitch”, reports a two-hour wait in Vienna. A “record Saturday” is reported from Salzburg. There are also pictures and reports about snakes circulating from other federal states – even in Upper Austria, which has so far been the stronghold of vaccination skeptics (only 57 percent vaccinated). The registrations for vaccinations there have increased tenfold compared to the beginning of October.

Overall, Austria is not at the end of the European comparison when it comes to willingness to have a corona vaccination, but it is in the lower half. 62 percent of the Austrian population is currently fully immunized (in Germany it is 67 percent). At the same time, the number of infections is increasing rapidly. Almost 10,000 new infections were reported within 24 hours on Saturday, which is a high. The fact that the hospitals and especially their intensive care units are not yet overloaded can be attributed to the vaccinations, which significantly reduce the risk of serious illnesses. Nevertheless, 365 intensive care beds were already occupied on Sunday. From 600 onwards, there should be a general lockdown according to the previous step-by-step plan.

Visiting the coffee house is not just a cliché

The government in Vienna has now skipped a few steps as a precaution. From this Monday on, rules apply that can be reduced to the common denominator: Lockdown for the unvaccinated. You can still only go to work with a negative test, but that’s no longer enough for practically all public amusements and enjoyments. According to Federal Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) and Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens), the “2-G” rule (vaccinated or recovered) applies wherever “3- G” (additionally tested) has previously applied, for example in gastronomy, in the hotel and in the theater, at concerts, sporting events or at the hairdresser’s. There is a transition period: Anyone who can now be vaccinated quickly can visit 2-G areas with a PCR test for another four weeks. But then the second stitch must be made.

It makes sense to attribute the sudden rush to the vaccination stations to the new regulation that had already leaked over the past week. Visiting a Viennese coffee house is not just a cliché, and people like to go out in the country too. It was no coincidence that a term was quickly found for the phenomenon that has suddenly caused so many unvaccinated people to rethink: Schnitzel panic. It is too early to see any real trend reversal from this. It remains to be seen whether the new wave of vaccinations will abate before a significant increase in the overall quota is achieved. On the other hand, the general release of the third “booster vaccination” six months after the first bite should have contributed to the volume. But according to the first reports, the first vaccinations by far outweighed the weekend.

Allegations against Kurz justified?

The “turquoise-green” government will see this as a success. Of course, the question immediately arose: why only now? By the end of the summer vacation, 58 percent of Austrians had already been vaccinated. If things had continued at the same pace, the country would have been able to move on the same scale today as Denmark’s model pupil. The former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) is now accused by the left and liberal opposition, behind closed doors but also by the Greens, of having stepped on the brakes out of fear of the right-wing FPÖ and with a view to the Upper Austrian state election in October.

In fact, Kurz had rhetorically declared the pandemic to be over – but expressly only for vaccinated people. His critics tend to overlook the fact that in July he warned of increasing numbers of infections and a lockdown if there was no willingness to vaccinate. On the other hand, the pressure that FPÖ boss Herbert Kickl is exerting with his radical anti-measures course is obvious. Kickl prefers to use vitamin supplements, bitter substances and fresh air. However, it may now be shown that many would prefer to use schnitzel rather than bitter substances.

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