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Denmark to offer third Covid-19 vaccine dose to care home residents

People who live in care homes in Denmark will be eligible for a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine from next week.

Denmark to offer third Covid-19 vaccine dose to care home residents
Care home residents queue for vaccination against Covid-19 earlier this year. Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Health Authority announced the decision in a statement on Friday following the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommendation on Thursday that European countries plan revaccination.

In its recommendation, the EMA noted that data does not currently support giving a third vaccine dose to entire populations, but that it is necessary for vulnerable groups.

“Revaccination of residents at care homes will begin next week. We have the vaccines and we fortunately already have a lot of experience in rolling out vaccination at care homes,” Health Authority deputy director Helene Probst said in the statement.

Both the EMA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have stated that vaccines given up to this point still provide good protection against Covid-19. But the ECDC recommended in a recent report that protection should be given against persons at risk of serious illness due to Covid-19.

That recommendation was noted by the Danish Health Authority in its statement on Friday.

“Care home residents were amongst the first to be vaccinated in Denmark and we know that the level of immunity falls over time. At the same time, we know that elderly people in particular can have a weakened response to vaccination,” Probst said in the statement.

“With that knowledge and given we are now seeing increasing infections at care homes, we will begin revaccination,” she added.

According to figures released by the Danish Health Authority, 96 percent of care home residents in Denmark are vaccinated against Covid-19. As such, most new infections at the home occur amongst vaccinated people.

Infection rates at care homes are described in the statement as “mildly increasing”, with cases detected at 15 homes in the country in the week commencing August 23rd.

Probst also said in the statement that she expects health sector and care home staff to be among those who will eventually be offered a third vaccine dose.

READ ALSO: Will people in Denmark who got the Johnson & Johnson jab get booster shots?

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COVID-19 RULES

Denmark to offer all over-50s autumn Covid-19 vaccine

As many as 2.5 million residents of Denmark, almost half the country’s population, will be offered an new booster vaccination against Covid-19 this autumn.

Denmark to offer all over-50s autumn Covid-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen presented on Wednesday the national plan for a potential new wave of the coronavirus this autumn and winter.

At a press briefing, Frederiksen said that nursing and care home residents, as well as everyone over the age of 50, would be offered Covid-19 vaccination this autumn.

People who live in care homes and others in vulnerable groups will be offered the vaccine from September 15th, with over-50s invited to be vaccinated from October 1st.

A new round of vaccination is part of a broader strategy to avoid shutting down parts of society due to national Covid-19 outbreaks, as seen in Denmark and the rest of the world in 2020 and 2021.

She said that vaccines were to thank for restrictions in winter 2021-22 being less severe than in the preceding year.

“The most important tool is still the vaccines. They showed their value last winter,” she said.

“But we also know that the protection given by vaccines fall off over time and that health authorities expect a new (Covid-19) wave,” she said.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Omicron subvariant now dominant in Denmark

The director of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm, said at the briefing that the decision to offer vaccination to over-50s was based on a “principle of caution”.

The World Health Authority has recommended offering vaccination to people over 60, Brostrøm said.

Danish residents under the age of 50 will be offered a vaccine if they are vulnerable or in risk groups for serious illness with Covid-19.

The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer will be used in the Danish vaccination programme, as was the case in 2021.

Existing Covid-19 vaccines are known not to protect with high effectiveness against infection with the Omicron variant, but do reduce the severity of illness if it is contracted.

“One of the things we have learned with the new variants Omicron, ed.] is that the vaccines are not particularly good at preventing infection. We’ve learned something here,” Brostrøm said.

But their ability to reduce the severity of disease means that, by vaccinating a large part of the population, Denmark can avoid a “large wave of illness,” he said.

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