Denmark urges public to get booster jabs after Covid-19 infections break record

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and senior health officials said the country would ramp up its drive to provide booster vaccinations as the country, already with record Covid-19 infection levels, braces for the impact of the Omicron variant.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and senior health officials on Wednesday said the country would ramp up its Covid-19 booster vaccination drive.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and senior health officials on Wednesday said the country would ramp up its Covid-19 booster vaccination drive. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Boosters were the key theme of a briefing given on Wednesday evening by Frederiksen and the heads of health authorities.

Earlier in the day, an additional 5,120 positive Covid-19 tests were registered in Denmark in the latest daily total, a record for the country’s coronavirus epidemic.

Frederiksen urged the country’s senior age groups to accept invitations to get boosters and asked for family members to assists elderly relatives with the digital element of the vaccine booking system.

“It’s completely crucial that authorities and regions now increase their tempo and capacity so there’s no need to wait and no one wastes valuable time,” she said.

The government reiterated at the meeting that it plans to avoid the type of lockdown seen in earlier waves of the virus, which saw schools and businesses close and large events cancelled.

“It’s our clear ambition that Denmark will remain open,” Frederiksen said, adding that vaccines were vital in ensuring this.

While Frederiksen has previously focused on unvaccinated people, this time she asked the public to accept the offer of a booster jab as soon as possible. Boosters will be offered to all over-18s six months after the original vaccination course was completed.

Vaccination capacity is to be ramped up to enable 500,000 jabs per week, the government said at the briefing.

Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm admitted that there were currently delays accessing vaccinations or boosters in some areas.

“We would like to see vaccination be available within a week of receiving the invitation,” Brostrøm said.

READ ALSO: How foreign citizens can get a booster Covid-19 jab in Denmark

All people offered a booster dose should be able to get one within a week in their own health authority region, according to a goal stated by the government.

“Everyone should be able to have a third (booster) jab within the six months [after vaccination, ed.]. That’s the clear goal of authorities,” Frederiksen said.

“You can say that every jab counts right now,” she added.

Health Minister Magnus Heunick said at the briefing that seven cases of the Omicron variant have now been identified in Denmark and that tests were ongoing in several more suspected cases.

“It’s important that we put all hands to the wheel. That is also because of the new variant Omicron. We know from earlier waves that time is a decisive factor,” Heunicke said.

READ ALSO: Denmark requires travellers from Middle East hubs to take Covid-19 test

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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.