Denmark to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to high risk groups

Danish health authorities are to offer a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to people considered to be at risk of serious illness with the virus.

A file photo showing syringes prepared with Covid-19 vaccine doses. Denmark is to give a fourth vaccine dose to vulnerable persons.
A file photo showing syringes prepared with Covid-19 vaccine doses. Denmark is to give a fourth vaccine dose to vulnerable persons. File photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke confirmed the country’s plan to offer a fourth jab to part of the population at a press briefing on Wednesday evening.

Around 55 percent of Denmark’s population has so-far received a booster jab, also referred to as the ‘third’ dose of the Covid vaccine.

A small number of people, primarily arthritis patients, have already been offered another booster – their fourth dose of the vaccine – intended to boost weakened immunity against Covid-19.

Invitations for the second booster will be sent out to more people from the end of this week, Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm said.

“It is a focused group of people who are at the highest risk. That is cancer patients, patients on immunotherapy and persons with immunodeficiency,” he said.

“They were also offered the third dose among the first groups early in the autumn,” he added.

Brostrøm also said that health authorities are considering giving a fourth dose to care home residents and very elderly persons.

“They are well protected by the third dose, which they were given during the autumn and early winter. But if we see anything that makes us think we should act, then we will do so,” he said.

Information on the effect of a fourth Covid vaccine dose is currently limited because few countries have reached the stage of distributing second boosters.

Israel began giving a fourth dose to at risk and vulnerable groups at the end of December 2021.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, 154 members of staff at the Sheeba Medical Center in Tel Aviv who have been given a fourth dose underwent blood tests before and after the booster. Those measurements showed a five-fold increase in antibodies one week after the vaccination.

Many of the group experienced side effects such as muscle soreness and headache, but there appeared to be no indications that the side effects for the fourth dose are worse than those with the third.

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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.