Health authority says Denmark has not withdrawn Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from under-18s

The Danish Health Authority confirmed on Friday that it is still allowing people aged 12-17 to receive the Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna. The authority earlier this week stated this was not the case.

The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are available to all eligible age groups in Denmark. Denmark has corrected an earlier statement and said it will continue to give the Moderna vaccine to under-1$8s if they request it.
Denmark has corrected an earlier statement and said it will continue to give the Moderna vaccine to under-1$8s if they request it. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

On Wednesday, the authority stated that people under the age of 18 would no longer be offered the Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna in a precautionary measure.

But this is not the case, with the incorrect information due to an “unclear formulation”, which has since been updated.

If a person in the 12-17 age group wants to receive the Moderna vaccine, they can request it, the health authority said in a revised statement. Unlike the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines, Moderna is still available in Denmark’s mainstream vaccination programme for the age group.

Around 1,100 people aged under 18 have been given the Moderna vaccine, according to information released by the Danish Health Authority.

The vaccine is easier to transport than the equivalent from Pfizer/BioNTech and has therefore been used on islands and by some mobile vaccination units.

A new Nordic study assessed the risk of meningitis and myocarditis, both of which are known but very rare side effects of Covid-19 vaccination.

Initial data raised the possibility of increased risk of myocarditis with the Moderna vaccine.

The number of cases recorded is very low, as is the risk of the side effect, the Danish Health Authority said in its statement on Wednesday.

“In Denmark, we have not seen more cases of myocarditis or any apparent difference between the two vaccines in the Danish vaccination programme,” Danish Health Authority head of department Bolette Søborg said.

“Both are extremely effective and we see few, and in the vast majority of cases mild and well-known side effects,” Søborg added.

Preliminary data from the Nordic study has been send to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for assessment by its side effects committee.

The Danish Health Authority said it would subsequently follow the assessment from the EMA and decide whether to change current recommendations accordingly.

Symptoms of myocarditis can include tiredness, irregular pulse, fever, chest pain, pain taking deep breaths and pain on the left hand side or in the centre of the chest, according to a statement this week by Sweden’s health authority, Folkhälsomyndigheten. The Swedish health authority announced on Wednesday that it would pause the use of the Moderna vaccine for people born after 1991.

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Covid-19: Denmark expects to bring updated jab into vaccination programme

An updated version of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, tabled by the European Medical Agency (EMA) for EU approval, is likely to be used in Denmark.

Covid-19: Denmark expects to bring updated jab into vaccination programme

The Danish Health Authority said that it expects the vaccine, which has been updated to protect against the currently dominant variant of the coronavirus, will be used in the autumn vaccination programme.

“We now have several variant-updated vaccines which we expect to give both better and broader protection against serious illness and death,” the deputy director of the Danish Health Auhtority, Helene Bilsted Probst, said in a press statement.

“We expect that the updated vaccine will give at least as good protection as the already-approved BA1-updated vaccine, and it could possibly be a little better,” she said.

The Health Authority is expected to make a decision in the near future on how doses of the latest update will be integrated into the existing vaccine programme.

Denmark’s autumn Covid-19 vaccination programme is scheduled to begin on September 15th, when care home residents and people aged 85 and over will be invited for a booster vaccine.

From October 1st, everyone aged 50 and over will be offered vaccination.

“Everyone who will be vaccinated in the autumn vaccination programme will be vaccinated with the variant-updated vaccine, and we will continuously assess how best to use it,” Probst said in the statement.

Other groups for which vaccination is recommended include those who are pregnant, work in the health and elderly care sectors, or are at heightened risk of serious illness.

Denmark took delivery of 720,000 Pfizer vaccines late last week and has secured a total of 4.5 million doses that will be delivered this month.

Probst stated that timely vaccination was important in reducing the likelihood of serious illness.

“So we need to get started so we can keep ahead of the virus,” she said.