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COVID-19 VACCINES

Denmark recommends Covid-19 booster jabs to all adults

Everyone over the age of 18 in Denmark will be offered a booster vaccination against Covid-19.

Denmark confirmed November 25th it will offer a Covid-19 booster vaccination to all adults over 18.
Denmark confirmed November 25th it will offer a Covid-19 booster vaccination to all adults over 18. File photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix

The recommendation is an update to the earlier policy in which primarily vulnerable and elderly groups were offered the booster or ‘third’ coronavirus jab.

Invitations for revaccination will be offered to all people over 18 who have previously been fully vaccinated with two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, or one in the case of the single-dose jab from Johnson & Johnson.

The booster will be offered six months after the date of the final dose of the original vaccination and will take the form of an invitation sent to Denmark residents’ secure digital mail, via the borger.dk or eBoks.dk platforms. This mirrors the procedure for the original vaccination programme.

“The Danish Health Authority recommends that the principle of revaccination six months after completed vaccination is extended so all adults over 18 are offered a third jab against Covid-19,” the health authority said in a statement.

Some 650,000 people in Denmark have so far received a booster against the coronavirus, around 11.2 percent of the overall population.

The Ministry of Health earlier said it aims to increase vaccination capacity regionally and expects to be close to its target of 300,000 vaccinations weekly from next week.

Revaccination of over 65s is considered by the Danish Health Authority to have “no risk of new serious side effects with a third dose”, the authority said last month.

Younger people may experience stronger reactions including “pain at the injection point, mild fever, discomfort and headache,” the authority also said.

“We can see that the possible side effects of a third jab are largely the same as with the second jab,” Danish Health Authority deputy director Helene Probst said in Thursday’s statement.

“This also means that we will see rare cases of myocarditis — inflammation of the heart — when we revaccinate younger cohorts, especially young men, just as we have seen some cases of this after another the second dose,” Probst said.

“But there are very few cases, typically with mild outcomes and with good treatment options,” she added.

READ ALSO: Denmark to give booster Covid-19 jab six months after vaccination

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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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