- The National Vaccination Board of Austria recommended that some healthcare workers and other key workers receive a fourth COVID-19 vaccine, citing risks from the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
However, it stated insufficient scientific evidence to recommend that fourth shots be given more widely.
“In light of an impending Omicron wave,” the board stated, “a fourth vaccination can be offered in high-risk areas (e.g., exposed health care personnel) and in systemically critical areas six months after the third vaccination.”
Austria announced on Wednesday that restrictions would be tightened again beginning December 27 to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
In November, the government declared a fourth national lockdown and announced that vaccinations would be mandatory for all Austrians, making Austria the first European Union country to do so.
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While the three-week ban reduced daily COVID-19 infections to record lows, the country is bracing for another surge. Several hundred Omicron cases have already been confirmed.
In its updated guidelines, the National Vaccination Board stated that fourth COVID-19 shots could be given “off label” to groups in healthcare and other critical areas after medical consultation.
“There is still no proof that this additional vaccination can keep infections at bay. However, it is reasonable to believe that serious illnesses can be avoided, “It stated.