Denmark drops Covid-19 booster jabs for under-18s due to existing immunity

Young people aged under 18 in Denmark will not be offered a booster Covid-19 vaccination in the foreseeable future.

Outside a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Denmark
Denmark will not offer a booster Covid-19 vaccine to under 18s, citing existing high immunity in the group due to earlier vaccinations and infections. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Health Authority said in a press statement that boosters will not be offered to under-18s because of high immunity in the group resulting from previous vaccination and infection with the coronavirus.

Young people and children are meanwhile at low risk of developing serious illness from infection with the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the health authority said.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also yet to approve the Covid-19 vaccine for a booster dose for people aged under 18.

The Danish Health Authority also confirmed it will not extend the group of people currently being offered a fourth vaccine dose – effectively a second booster.

A fourth jab has been offered to vulnerable risk groups, with care home residents and persons over 85 next in line. But the latter groups will not be offered a fourth dose, the health authority confirmed.

That is because the epidemic in Denmark is considered to be losing momentum and because the Omicron variant has resulted in a low number of serious cases for elderly patients. The health authority therefore views a further vaccine dose as unnecessary currently.

Children aged 5-11 will continue to be offered vaccination against Covid-19 with a first and second dose, continuing the Danish practice of recommending the vaccine to children first introduced in November 2021.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Danish inpatient total continues increase but ICUs stable

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Denmark to offer all over-50s autumn Covid-19 vaccine

As many as 2.5 million residents of Denmark, almost half the country’s population, will be offered an new booster vaccination against Covid-19 this autumn.

Denmark to offer all over-50s autumn Covid-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen presented on Wednesday the national plan for a potential new wave of the coronavirus this autumn and winter.

At a press briefing, Frederiksen said that nursing and care home residents, as well as everyone over the age of 50, would be offered Covid-19 vaccination this autumn.

People who live in care homes and others in vulnerable groups will be offered the vaccine from September 15th, with over-50s invited to be vaccinated from October 1st.

A new round of vaccination is part of a broader strategy to avoid shutting down parts of society due to national Covid-19 outbreaks, as seen in Denmark and the rest of the world in 2020 and 2021.

She said that vaccines were to thank for restrictions in winter 2021-22 being less severe than in the preceding year.

“The most important tool is still the vaccines. They showed their value last winter,” she said.

“But we also know that the protection given by vaccines fall off over time and that health authorities expect a new (Covid-19) wave,” she said.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Omicron subvariant now dominant in Denmark

The director of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm, said at the briefing that the decision to offer vaccination to over-50s was based on a “principle of caution”.

The World Health Authority has recommended offering vaccination to people over 60, Brostrøm said.

Danish residents under the age of 50 will be offered a vaccine if they are vulnerable or in risk groups for serious illness with Covid-19.

The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer will be used in the Danish vaccination programme, as was the case in 2021.

Existing Covid-19 vaccines are known not to protect with high effectiveness against infection with the Omicron variant, but do reduce the severity of illness if it is contracted.

“One of the things we have learned with the new variants Omicron, ed.] is that the vaccines are not particularly good at preventing infection. We’ve learned something here,” Brostrøm said.

But their ability to reduce the severity of disease means that, by vaccinating a large part of the population, Denmark can avoid a “large wave of illness,” he said.