Denmark to consider individual choice over AstraZeneca vaccine

Denmark to consider individual choice over AstraZeneca vaccine
Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix
The Danish government has said it is prepared to listen to suggestions the country’s shelved AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines can be given to individuals who consent to take it.

Health minister Magnus Heunicke has said the government will look at proposals as to how such an arrangement might work. Authorities announced this week that the AstraZeneca jab is to be completely withdrawn from Denmark’s Covid-19 vaccination programme due to concerns over potential rare, but serious side effects.

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Around 150,000 people in Denmark have received their first injection with the vaccine. Two doses are required to reach maximum immunity.

“I have summoned the (political) parties for a meeting about vaccines and the Danish vaccine strategy. And we have asked the Danish Health Authority to submit an outline of how this might look if it was a decision we took politically,” Heunicke said.

That outline is expected to be ready on Monday, news wire Ritzau reports.

Two conservative parties previously called for the public to be able to decide themselves whether or not they want to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine if they are willing to accept any potential risk.

“It is important that we make use of the vaccines we have if there are Danes who wish to have an AstraZeneca vaccine. Amongst those who have received the first dose there are surely some people who want a second dose and thereby to complete their vaccination,” Conservative political spokesperson Mette Abildgaard said.

Libertarian party Liberal Alliance has also called for citizens to be given the opportunity to choose whether they want the vaccine.

“Danes are adult, consenting people who are capable of taking this type of decision on an informed basis. This would give individual vaccinated people more freedom and society a faster route to reopening,” the party’s leader Alex Vanopslagh tweeted.

Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, leader of the Liberal party, has said he would take the AstraZeneca vaccine himself.

But other parties, including the left-wing Red Green Alliance and right-wing Danish People’s Party, have expressed scepticism over the idea because it could go against health authority recommendations.

“I place a lot of weight on there not being a great deal of political disagreement” on the matter, Heunicke said.

The government is yet to confirm its plans for the approximately 200,000 AstraZeneca vaccines currently in storage in Denmark.

The vaccine is still officially approved for use in Denmark but has been withdrawn from the Covid-19 vaccination calendar. A lack of clarity also exists as to liability in the case of serious side effects, and how compensation would be given.


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