‘Not scared’: Danish children line up for Covid jabs

Waiting for his first Covid jab at a vaccination centre in a suburb of Denmark's capital, seven-year-old William shows off to his little brother.

Vaccination is administered to the arm of a child.
Denmark was one of the first European countries to open vaccination to all over-fives on November 26th. GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

“I’m not scared, I’ve already done it 100 times,” he says, while around him nurses reassure children who have come to be inoculated against the coronavirus.

Inside a converted commercial warehouse in Taastrup, one young patient struts around the waiting room confidently, while another clutches a comforter, looking anxious.

Denmark was one of the first European countries to open vaccination to all over-fives on November 26th, though it is not compulsory.

Twenty percent of children born between 2010 and 2016 have already received a first dose in the Scandinavian country of 5.8 million inhabitants.

Samuel Christiansen, 8, says he has come to boost his immune system after a first bout of Covid-19, especially now the Omicron strain is spreading.

“I don’t really want to be sick” again with Omicron, he says.

His father, Henrik Jansen, says the family is there to “protect the elderly, the older members of the family, Granny and Grandad”.

The EU’s medicines watchdog last month approved the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for five- to 11-year-olds, an age group experiencing high coronavirus infection rates across Europe.

Austria has also started offering jabs to its under-fives, while Portugal started on Saturday, and France is to begin next week.

Helene Probst, the joint head of Denmark’s national health agency, said the campaign was going well.

In the fifth wave of the virus, “the most important tool is still vaccines, even in the fight against Omicron,” she said.

The Scandinavian country has said it will close cinemas, theatres and concert halls and restrict restaurant opening hours from Sunday over a record number of daily Covid-19 cases in recent days.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen Friday said people should limit their social contacts.

Fayrouz Ben Alaya said she did not hesitate to vaccinate her eight-year-old daughter, Camelia Fourati.

“I didn’t do it for her, but to lay down one more stone to stem the spread of the virus,” said the worker in the pharmaceutical sector.

Camelia was more than happy to get the jab.

“Everybody is the family was vaccinated, I was the last one,” she said.

“I’m happy I did it because now, if I get corona, I won’t feel anything.”


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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.

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