Austrian mayors accused of jumping queue for COVID-19 vaccinesComments
Austrian authorities have said they are investigating media reports that non-priority citizens, including mayors, have been given COVID-19 vaccines.
Under the country's government strategy, vaccines should be handed out prioritising residents, employees and medical staff at care homes.
Austria began its vaccination campaign earlier this month using the jab developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.
But reports have claimed that jabs have been given to local elected officials and the relatives of some health workers.
The public prosecutor's office in the region of Carinthia said it was investigating complaints that one vaccine facility had ordered additional doses in exchange for pledges of donations from citizens.
Meanwhile, in the province of Vorarlberg, the mayor of Feldkirch, Wolfgang Matt, was accused of "passing a long line of people waiting outside" for a vaccination.
Matt has denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement that no priority person had claimed the remaining leftover doses of the vaccine. In a previous statement, the mayor had described vaccination as a "moral obligation".
In Rankweil, another town in Vorarlberg, Mayor Katharina Wöß-Krall stated that she "did not to intend to get vaccinated" when she received a dose on 13 January.
"After the residents and the nursing staff had been vaccinated, several doses of the vaccine remained," said Wöß-Krall, adding that there was no guidance in place for the situation.
"Due to the limited shelf life of the vaccine, I agreed to the vaccination to the best of my knowledge and belief.
"For me, it made more sense to use up the vaccine than to throw it away."
Citizens in Austria have expressed frustration at the perceived slowness of the country's vaccination programme, which has been compounded by reports that the Ministry of Health's order has been ignored.
The ministry has since issued specific guidelines to prevent any non-compliance and ordered extra vaccine doses only to be given to citizens over the age of 80 who live near care homes.
Workers who pay regular visits to these facilities, such as physiotherapists or hairdressers, should also be vaccinated, the government said.