Austria sees ‘incredible’ surge in COVID vaccinations after introducing lockdown and mandatory jabs

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A sign indicates the way to the vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of the famous St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna on August 11, 2021, amid the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP) (Photo by ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images)
A vaccination centre at the Barbara Chapel of the famous St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. (Getty)

Austria has seen a surge in COVID vaccinations after the government brought in a lockdown and announced mandatory jabs.

The country became the first western European nation to reimpose a full national lockdown on Monday.

Officials told people to work from home if they can and shut cafes, restaurants, bars, theatres and non-essential shops for at least 10 days.

There has now been an increase in vaccinations, with Edouard Mathieu, head of data at Our World in Data (OWID), calling the growth 'incredible' and adding 1% of the population is getting a jab each day.

However, just less than 1 in 5 of these are first doses, with the majority booster shots.

Watch: Austria enters fourth national lockdown

Around a third of Austrians are unvaccinated, one of the highest rates in western Europe, and authorities mainly blame the unvaccinated for the current COVID wave, though protection from vaccines given early this year is also waning.

Officials imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated last week but daily infections kept rising far above the previous peak reached a year ago and intensive care beds were running short.

On Friday, the conservative-led government said it was reimposing a full lockdown for everyone and would make it compulsory to get vaccinated as of 1 February.

People can leave home for a limited number of reasons like going to work or buying essentials. 

Going for a walk is allowed with no limit on time or distance.

Only one person from another household can be met at a time.

Daily vaccine doses administered in Austria
Daily vaccine doses administered in Austria
Proportion of people who have had at least one dose in Austria
The proportion of people who have had at least one dose in Austria

Since the start of November, daily vaccine doses administered in Austria have increased sharply. 

These include first, second and booster doses.

On 1 November, 18,419 jabs were given out, but that rose to a massive 89,993 by Saturday (22 November).

This is close to the peak number of vaccinations that we're being administered on 12 June of 92,333.

The proportion of people who have had one dose has risen more steadily and is nearly at 70% but it's still one of the lowest on the continent.

The proportion of people who have had two doses in Austria
The proportion of people who have had two doses in Austria

The percentage of fully vaccinated people has also gone up slightly since the announcement of the new restrictions and compulsory jabs.

Roughly 66% of Austria's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but this is still lower than many other European nations.

Many Austrians are sceptical about vaccinations, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-biggest in parliament.

Around 40,000 people, many of them supporters of the Freedom Party, protested in capital Vienna against coronavirus restrictions on Saturday.

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Europe is once again the epicentre of the global pandemic, with a major new surge of infections.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia banned unvaccinated people from services including pubs from Monday.

German areas bordering Austria and the Czech Republic with the country's highest case numbers have introduced stricter rules, cancelling Christmas markets, barring the unvaccinated restaurants and bars and imposing curfews at night.

Watch: Austria in nationwide lockdown amid soaring virus cases

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