One fifth of people in Denmark sceptical of Covid vaccine

Nearly a fifth of people in Denmark are uncertain about whether they would take a coronavirus vaccine if recommended it by the country's health authorities, with researchers warning of a "massive communication task" lying ahead.

One fifth of people in Denmark sceptical of Covid vaccine
Danes were the least sceptical of the eight countries surveyed. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix
According to the latest update from Aarhus University's ongoing How Democracies Cope with COVID19 (HOPE) project, only 51 percent of those surveyed in Denmark described themselves as “completely certain” they would be willing to receive a vaccine,  with a further 31 percent saying that they were partly certain. 
Michael Bang Pedersen, the Aarhus psychology professor who leads the project, said that, while worrying, respondents from Denmark were more positive to vaccines than those of any other nation. 
“The Danish results look pretty good, the Swedish figures are less good, and some of the results from France are extremely worrisome in my view,” he told The Local. 
“So I think there's a massive communication task in front of a lot of national health authorities, including the Danish one.” 
Only 38 percent of respondents from France to the study said they were “completely certain” they would take a vaccine. 
Here are the figures for the eight nations surveyed, from left to right: France, Hungary, USA, Germany, Sweden, Italy, UK, Denmark. 
Bang Pedersen said that some uncertainty was unsurprising. 
“At this point, some uncertainty is to be expected, because we don't know what the features of the vaccine will be, how effective it is, and what the side effects will be,” he said. 
“I think that part of the communication task for the authorities will be to acknowledge the uncertainty and to say, 'even if you are uncertain it doesn't mean you are anti-vaccine, and we are going to show you that the vaccine is safe despite those uncertainties.” 
He said that the another obstacle could come if young people feel that because they are at too low a risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus to make receiving a vaccine worthwhile. 
“They might think, 'I don't think I'll get a vaccine, because I'm not at risk myself'”, he said. 
The solution, he said, was to make sure people were “informed about the logic of herd immunity”, and also made to feel empathy with people in vulnerable groups. 
Finally, he said governments should already be starting to counteract misinformation about vaccines, and educating their populations to make them less susceptible to counter “fake news” in the internet. 
The responses in the report were collected between September 13th and October 3rd.

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Aarhus schools partially reopen as local Danish coronavirus restrictions eased

Some upper secondary school (gymnasium) students in Aarhus are able to physically attend classes again from Tuesday.

Aarhus schools partially reopen as local Danish coronavirus restrictions eased
Students in Aarhus on Monday protested against ongoing closures of upper secondary schools. The measure has since been partially lifted. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

A temporary closure of upper secondary schools, which are attended by 16-19 year-olds, was partially lifted along with local restrictions in the town of Silkeborg, the Ministry for Health and the Elderly said in a statement late on Monday.

Half of students at upper secondary schools in Aarhus will be allowed to return initially, with the remaining limitation set to stay in place until September 4th.

Both Aarhus and Silkeborg municipalities had been the subject of measures aimed at slowing localised increases in new Covid-19 infections.

A potential easing of Silkeborg’s restrictions was notified last week by the Danish Patient Safety Authority provided that a “positive trend” in reducing new cases continued.

As such, face masks will no longer be required in supermarkets and shopping centres in the town and restaurant closing times will be brought back into line with the rest of the country.

READ ALSO: Here’s what you need to know about Denmark’s 'phase four' reopening

Some of the restrictions in Aarhus will remain in place. That includes the obligation for cafes and restaurants to close by midnight, although this may be reviewed before the current September 4th expiry date.

Half of upper secondary school students in the city will now return to class, however.

“Management at educational institutions will be responsible for ensuring that, before physical attendance at educational institutions commences, a plan is in place for conducting classes in accordance with health authority recommendations,” the ministry statement said.

No further information was given on which students would initially return to classes.

Health minister Magnus Heunicke, in a social media post, praised Aarhus, saying the city had “done well” to enable measures to be eased.

On of the upper secondary schools in the city, Marselisborg Gymnasium, said it would wait until Wednesday before reopening.

“I’m just so happy about this. And I’m happy they’ve listened to us. But that’s precisely why we want to reopen responsibly with distancing and so on,” school director Kirsten Skov told Ritzau.