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COVID-19

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 VACCINES

Who is eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine dose in Denmark and when?

Public health officials in Denmark say a low turnout for the second round of Covid booster shots — for most people, their fourth jab — has made them concerned that many don’t realise they’re eligible.

Who is eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine dose in Denmark and when?

 Danish authorities have hardly clear on whether to offer fourth Covid jabs and to whom, since the beginning of 2022.

In January, the government announced that fourth shots would be given to the very elderly and other high risk populations— but that decision was reversed just four weeks later and the fourth Covid dose program was ended.

At a June 22nd press conference, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced plans for a more general booster program in the autumn and added that the ‘particularly vulnerable’ would be eligible for new doses the following week. 

When the Covid vaccination program began in early 2021, Denmark estimated the number of ‘selected patients with particularly increased risk’ that should be prioritised for vaccination at 240,000. But in the month since Frederiksen’s announcement, only about 3,500 people have come in for a fourth jab. Experts say that’s in no small part over confusion as to who is ‘particularly vulnerable.’

Indeed, the Danish Health Authority website doesn’t appear to currently provide a list of conditions that qualify for a second booster and instead refers readers to their primary care provider. That’s unfortunate since even general practitioners are finding it hard to determine who the rules say can get a fourth shot, Danish broadcaster DR reports.

The failure to resolve the issue is putting many patients at risk, some public health experts worry. “With the spread we are seeing with Covid at the moment, I think the Health Authority needs to be very clear about who should get the fourth prick now and who should wait,” Torben Mogensen, chairman of the Lung Association, told DR. 

READ ALSO: Danish health minister says further Covid-19 vaccinations could ward off restriction

What we know for sure 

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women are already eligible for fourth doses
  • People with suppressed immune systems are already eligible 
  • Approximately September 15: fourth doses begin for people in care homes and among ‘particularly vulnerable’ elderly people 
  • October 1st: fourth doses begin for everyone 50 years of age and and over 

Your primary care provider (the one on your yellow card) can refer you for a vaccination appointment, as can doctors at hospitals. 

What factors will your doctor consider? 

Guidelines provided to doctors by the Danish Health Authority ask them to weigh the patient’s age, risk of serious course of illness if infected, their presumed immunity status based on recent infection, and their overall risk of infection based on their living conditions (strangely, crowded living conditions and living in a sparsely populated area both suggest you may need a booster shot). 

…and now for the riddles

In lieu of a list of conditions that might qualify a patient for an early fourth shot, doctors have been offered a series of ‘example patients’ that are eligible for a booster  under the new rules. 

  • 45-year-old woman with reduced immune system due to haematological cancer
  • 74-year-old man with severe obesity and heart failure, who has had recurring lower respiratory tract infections for the past six months and declining functional level
  • 65-year-old woman with severe obesity and diabetes with serious co-morbidities, e.g foot ulcers or chronic kidney failure
  • 82-year-old woman with rapid onset of functional loss (e.g. failing memory, reduced mobility and need for help with personal care) and beginning signs of malnutrition (eats too little, does not gain weight)
  • 23-year-old with cystic fibrosis with frequent pneumonia and hospitalisations
  • 50-year-old male with bowel cancer who has recently completed chemotherapy
  • 85-year-old man who lives with his children and grandchildren in a small home
  • 65-year-old woman who has been operated on for breast cancer and has diabetes, and who needs to travel to an area with high infection
  • 39-year-old resident of a social psychiatric residence, with heavy tobacco consumption, occasional alcohol overconsumption, overweight and in treatment with many different drugs

READ ALSO: Danish hospitals see rise in number of Covid patients 

It’s worth a call or message 

With a particularly nasty flu season on the horizon, public health experts say it’s worth a call, email, or message to your primary care provider if you have any reason to suspect you might be eligible for vaccination. 

“We know that infection rates have been rising both in Denmark and in Europe in recent weeks, and a new variant is on its way in,” Aarhus University professor emeritus of infectious diseases told DR.  “Then comes autumn, when we know that a respiratory virus spreads more than it does in summer. So there’s every reason to get that fourth jab if you’re in the vulnerable groups and it’s been more than six months since you had your third.” 

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