Children aged 12-15 in Denmark begin Covid-19 vaccination

Several hundred children and young people aged 12-15 in Denmark have booked a Covid-19 vaccination, and some have already attended appointments to receive the jab.

Children aged 12-15 in Denmark begin Covid-19 vaccination
A sign directing cyclists to a vaccination centre in Copenhagen. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The South Denmark region alone saw 509 people in the age group 12-15 book their vaccine appointments by midnight on Wednesday.

Although many appointments have already been made, the country did not begin sending invitations to the demographic until Thursday. As such, the number is likely to increase further on Thursday, according to the South Denmark health authority. Invitations are sent via the Eboks secure digital mail system.

The European Medicines Agency approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children 12-15 in May, after analysing the results of a study with 2,200 children. The Danish Health Authority endorsed vaccinating children in this age range after its own review in June.

READ ALSO: Denmark offers Pfizer jab to children ages 12-15

A total of 51,176 people in South Denmark have been able to book their appointments since Wednesday. The group covers those born in the years 2006-2009, meaning they turn 12, 13, 14 or 15 this year.

15-year-olds receive invitations for vaccination themselves, while for 12-14-year-olds the invitation is sent to parents, with whom the decision on whether their child should be vaccinated rests.

In the Zealand region, invitations were sent yesterday but not everyone has yet received them, news wire Ritzau writes based on comments provided by Region Sjælland (Zealand).

Nevertheless, “many have already made appointments this week, with 1,165 of 1,676 available slots already booked,” the authority said via email.

The Central Jutland region confirmed that people aged 12-15 attended for vaccination appointments on Thursday. Children aged under 15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can provide permission for their vaccination, the region stressed.

The Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) expects to complete vaccination by the end of August of all 12–15-year-olds who elect to receive the jab.

Along with people aged 30-34, those in the youngest age group are the last to be offered vaccination under the Danish Covid-19 vaccination programme.

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Covid-19: Danish research finds improved protection from updated vaccine

Denmark’s infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI) says that a second booster or “fourth dose” with an updated form of the Covid-19 vaccine will significantly improve protection against the virus.

Covid-19: Danish research finds improved protection from updated vaccine

The fourth dose will offer markedly better protection than if a person has only received a “third” dose or single booster jab, SSI said in a press statement.

SSI researchers, working with colleagues from the other Nordic countries, have analysed the effect of the additional booster jab with the vaccine, which has been updated in line with newer dominant subvariants of the coronavirus.

When the Danish population was first vaccinated against Covid-19, the vaccines were designed to offer protection against the original form of the virus, SSI writes.

But newer variants have made the original vaccines less effective. The updated vaccines are designed to have the best possible effect against both the original variant as well as the Omicron variant.

There are currently two versions of the updated vaccine. One is adapted towards the BA.1 Omicron subvariant, with another adapted to the BA.4-5 subvariant.

In the Nordic countries, the updated vaccines were offered during autumn 2022 to all persons over the age of 50 in Denmark and Sweden, over 60 in Finland and over 65 in Norway.

A fourth dose with the BA.1-updated version reduced the risk of hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 74 percent and the risk of death by 80 percent compared to the third dose, SSI found.

The BA.4-5 updated version reduced the risk of hospitalisation by 81 percent and the risk of death by 78 percent.

The latter of the two updated versions (BA.4-5) was found to reduce the risk of hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 32 percent compared to the BA-1 version.

“This is maybe not so surprising because BA.4-5 subvariants were dominant in autumn 2022,” SSI head of department Anders Hviid said in the statement.

“But I think we are among the first [countries] to be able to measure this based on the large quantities of data we have available from working across four countries,” he said.

The research was supported by the EU’s European Medicines Agency (EMA).

SSI notes that the frequency of hospitalisation and particularly death due to Covid-19 was very low after both the third and fourth doses of the vaccine.

The academic paper resulting from the study can be read in English here.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s health authority scraps isolation guidelines for Covid-19