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COVID-19 VACCINES

‘Everyone in Denmark will have a third vaccine dose’: Health Minister

Denmark's health authorities now expect to give third vaccine doses to everyone in the country, and aim to vaccinate 90 percent of the population, the country's health minister said at a press conference on Monday.

'Everyone in Denmark will have a third vaccine dose': Health Minister
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Health Minister Magnus Heunicke arriving for the press conference. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix
At a press conference called by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to update citizens on the coronavirus pandemic, Magnus Heunicke said that the health authorities were now planning for booster doses to be universal. 

“The expectation in Denmark is that we will all have a third dose of the vaccine,” he said. “The question is when.”

The Danish Health Authority said last week that it would publish guidelines this week on who in the country will be eligible for booster doses and when they can be expected to receive them, with the agency’s deputy director saying that the first in line would be people with health conditions that weaken their immune systems.  

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Frederiksen began the conference by crediting the vaccines, which she called “the super-weapon to beat them all”, for the fact that she did not expect to have to order another lockdown to control the pandemic. 

“Everyday life is fortunately back in most places, and we have the clear expectation that we can avoid major lockdowns in the future, because we have the super-weapon in place: the vaccines,” she said.

Danes, she said, had world-leading levels of vaccine acceptance, but she warned that, even so, too many of those under the age of 40 had yet to get their jabs. 

“In Denmark, it is voluntary whether you roll up your sleeve and get a jab in your shoulder,” she said. “But I’d like to say very clearly to those of you that have yet to get vaccinated: you risk getting infected, and you risking passing those symptoms on to others.” 

Even young people risked suffering debilitating symptoms long after being infected, she said.

Heunicke backed up Frederiksen’s call by warning of “an epidemic of the non-vaccinated”, with 80 percent of those currently being treated in hospital unvaccinated. 

He also confirmed that Denmark planned to invest 800m kroner into the vaccine being developed by the Danish pharma company Bavarian Nordic, revealing that the country expected to get at least half of its investment back in the form of vaccine doses if, as expected, the vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency at the start of next year.

Søren Brostrøm, director of the Danish Health Agency said that he expected to see rising infection levels among the non-vaccinated over the rest of this year, and said he and the health ministry were now targeting having 90 percent of the population vaccinated by October. 

He compared the vaccination program to a dam, which must be “built higher” and “in which the holes must be patched”.

There are still 1.4 million people in Denmark who have neither been fully vaccinated nor booked times for a dose, either because they are under 12 years of age, because they do not want to get vaccinated, or because they have not got around to booking a time.

The number of daily doses being administered has fallen from above 50,000 a day at the peak in mid-June to below 5,000 today. 

At the press conference, the government announced that before October 1st, it intended to offer vaccinations at all sites of youth or adult education across the country, as well as pop-up vaccination centres in residential areas and workplaces with low levels of vaccination take-up. 

All vaccination centres will be required to offer jabs to those who arrive without prior appointments. 

The government will also step up its targeted advertising campaigns, and do further research into why some groups are still not getting vaccinated. 

Brostrøm said that the authorities had also considered offering vaccination at primary schools. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Denmark suspends national Covid-19 vaccination programme

Denmark, which in February lifted all curbs related to the coronavirus pandemic, said on Tuesday it was suspending its general Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Denmark suspends national Covid-19 vaccination programme

Noting that the epidemic was under control and that vaccination levels were high, the Danish Health Authority said the country was in a “good position.”

“Therefore we are winding down the mass vaccination program against Covid-19,” said Bolette Søborg, director of the authority’s department of infectious diseases.

Around 81 percent of Denmark’s 5.8 million inhabitants have received two doses of the vaccine and 61.6 percent have also received a booster.

Denmark noted a drop in the number of new infections and stable hospitalisation rates.

While invitations for vaccinations would no longer be issued after May 15th, health officials anticipate that vaccinations would resume after the summer.

“We plan to reopen the vaccination programme in the autumn. This will be preceded by a thorough professional assessment of who and when to vaccinate and with which vaccines,” Søborg said.

As a wave of the Omicron variant hit the country last November, Denmark intensified its immunisation campaign, accelerating access to booster shots and offering a fourth dose from mid-January to the most vulnerable.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Denmark registers under 1,000 cases in a day for first time in 2022

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