Denmark reconsiders Covid-19 vaccination recommendation for children

The Danish Health Authority is considering whether to continue vaccinating children aged 5-11 against Covid-19, according to a report.

Denmark has vaccinated 5-11 year-olds since November 2021, but could change its recommendation due to the milder Omicron variant and forthcoming spring season.
Denmark has vaccinated 5-11 year-olds since November 2021, but could change its recommendation due to the milder Omicron variant and forthcoming spring season. File photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

The health authority’s director Søren Brostrøm told newspaper Politiken there were two reasons for reconsidering the current policy to offer vaccination to children in the age range.

“We are reconsidering the recommendation for two reasons,” Brostrøm said.

“Partly because Omicron is a different thing to Delta and gives fewer hospital admissions. Partly because a change in season is on the way and the infection curve will peak because of high immunity in the community,” he said.

The Danish Health Authority first recommended last November that parents allow children aged 5-11 to be vaccinated against Covid-19, calling for increased immunity in kids.

Brostrøm said he had “never been in doubt” that that was the correct decision at the time.

“Transmissions were occurring particularly in that age group, which was moving the virus on to parents and grandparents who could have got seriously ill from the Delta variant,” he said.

“Children have contributed with a few percentage points to immunity in the community, which is the reason that Covid-19 is no longer a critical threat to society,” he told Politiken.

While Denmark currently recommends vaccination of 5-11 year-olds against Covid, neighbouring Sweden and Norway do not vaccinate the same age group.

Neither country has a general recommendation in place for Covid-19 vaccination in 5-11 year-olds.

In Denmark, 41.8 percent of children aged 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 31.9 percent are fully vaccinated.

When it introduced the recommendation in November, the Danish Health Authority hoped to vaccinate 70 percent of the age group.

Brostrøm also said in the interview with Politiken that it is “most probable” that parts or all of the Danish population will be offered a variant-focused vaccine again this autumn.

That would be to guard against future waves of the virus driven by colder weather.

“I have begun to prepare myself for a possible scenario in which Covid-19 becomes a winter sickness that, like influenza, returns year after year and where updated vaccines are developed every year,” he said.

“Because we are not going to eradicate Covid-19. It mutates and jumps between animals and humans like influenza does,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark returns to ‘life as we knew it’ as Covid-19 restrictions end despite Omicron

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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.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Denmark registers under 1,000 cases in a day for first time in 2022