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UKRAINE

Austria announces free public transport for people fleeing Ukraine

Wiener Linien, Vienna's public transport operator, has announced refugees from Ukraine can travel on the city's public transport network for free, following a similar move by ÖBB.

Austria announces free public transport for people fleeing Ukraine
Wiener Linien is offering free travel to refugees from Ukraine. Photo by Samuel-Elias Nadler on Unsplash

On Monday, Wiener Linien announced on Twitter that anyone fleeing Ukraine will be able to use public transport in Vienna without a ticket between March 1st and March 15th.

In the event of a ticket check, people can show documents that they have travelled from Ukraine.

The organisation said it is their “responsibility to provide quick and unbureaucratic help”, and also announced they are reviewing the possibility of long-term support for those impacted. 

The announcements were made in both German and English.

Wiener Linien is responsible for around 180 tram, bus and underground train lines across Austria’s capital city.

Refugees from Ukraine can already use ÖBB (Austria’s national rail operator) services for free by showing their travel documents.

The move follows similar announcements in Poland, Germany and Switzerland to assist those fleeing conflict areas. 

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VIENNA

Delays and high demand force Vienna to expand Covid vaccinations

Vienna will expand its Covid vaccine offerings due to high demand, with some waiting up to two hours to get the jab.

Delays and high demand force Vienna to expand Covid vaccinations

Long lines in Viennese vaccination centres led to people having to wait one and a half to two hours to get the coronavirus jab, according to reports in Austria media.

Some people were told to get vaccinated elsewhere due to the high demand. 

Broadcaster ORF said that the surge in demand comes just after the city of Vienna simplified the access to the fourth Covid vaccination. As a result, people can get the shot after four months of the third dose without the need for registration or appointment.

With increasing coronavirus numbers ahead of the summer holidays, the search for the vaccine has also risen. While about 300 people were vaccinated daily less than two weeks ago, about 1,300 people went every day at the weekend, the report said.

Health authorities recommend people make an appointment even though they are not required to. “With an appointment, it’s easier for us to plan, and there is also a separate area for people with appointments”, Susanne Drapalik, chief physician at the Samaritan League, told reporters.

The Austrian capital will also extend the opening hours of the vaccination centres to meet demand.

More information is available here. 

Who should receive a second booster? 

Austria’s GECKO crisis coordinator Katharina Reich and Health Minister Rauch are now calling for vulnerable people to get vaccinated in light of the rising number of corona cases.

“We won’t have any peace in the summer. There is no stability. Vulnerable groups should get vaccinated now and again in the autumn. Everyone else who has already been vaccinated three times should get boosters around eight weeks before the autumn wave,” Reich told Austrian media.

Currently, Austria’s National Vaccination Committee (NIG) has recommended a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but only for those deemed at risk of serious illness.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: What should I do if my Austrian Green Pass is expiring

The NIG identifies risk groups as people over 80 and those between the ages of 65 and 79 with a weakened immune system or existing health conditions.

The committee is considering lowering the recommended age to 65, even for people with no other health conditions.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 in Austria: When should you get your fourth vaccine dose?

In Vienna, the fourth dose can already be given off-label to persons over the age of 65 or to anyone who wants to take it after a medical individual risk-benefit assessment.

Clinical pharmacologist Markus Zeitlinger, from MedUni Vienna, told Kurier that he believes anyone who wants maximum immune protection at all times should get a vaccination now – children excluded. He said since there will be a summer wave, people shouldn’t wait to get protected.

He said there is medically no reason not to get vaccinated in June, and then again as early as October. 

If you have had three vaccinations and had an infection confirmed by PCR test, then no further vaccination is currently recommended.

 

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