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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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.