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.

READ ALSO: Denmark confirms change to coronapas validity period

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Covid-19: Denmark decides against additional booster this winter

No additional booster vaccination against Covid-19 will be offered this winter, the Danish Health Authority confirmed on Wednesday.

Covid-19: Denmark decides against additional booster this winter

Together with an expert advisory group, the Health Authority has considered whether to offer vulnerable groups an extra booster vaccination against Covid-19 this winter.

People at higher risk of serious illness with the virus including those over the age of 85 will not be offered a further booster this winter, the authority has decided.

Denmark offered a booster in autumn 2022 to all people over the age of 50 and younger people considered vulnerable to the coronavirus.

The booster was backed up by data suggesting it improves protection against hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 74 percent, according to the Danish Health Authority.

READ ALSO: Danish research finds improved protection from updated Covid-19 vaccine

Infection numbers in Denmark are currently low.

“We have the highest vaccine uptake in Europe and the vaccines have proved to be effective, including for the elderly and most vulnerable. We are in a good place in the Covid-19 epidemic. We can only be pleased about this,” head of section and consultant physician Kirstine Moll Harboe said in the statement.

The health authority nevertheless expects immunity and effectiveness of vaccines to fall over time and will therefore develop a plan for a new booster vaccination campaign to take place in the autumn.