Finland expands recommendation on 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 19, 2022
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HELSINKI, July 18 (Xinhua) -- In light of the rapid growth rate in infections with the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants of coronavirus in Europe and especially in Finland, the country's Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recommends a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 60 and over and for 18-69-olds in high-risk groups, the institute said in a press release issued on Monday.

The THL has urged the country's municipalities to start administering the jabs to certain groups as early as July or by the beginning of August at the latest.

The health authority recommended that the second booster shot be offered in the following order: people aged 70-79 not belonging to risk groups, adults aged 18 to 69 who are in a risk group, and all those aged 60-69 not belonging to risk groups.

For now, the recommendation does not apply to 12-17-year-olds, and to social and health care professionals who still have good protection against severe COVID-19.

The THL said that its decision follows the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) that fourth vaccine doses should be immediately offered to everyone over the age of 60 and to people belonging to risk groups.

"Following the ECDC and EMA recommendation, we have discussed with municipalities the possibility of pushing forward the vaccination schedule," Mika Salminen, director of the Health Security Unit at the THL, said in the press release.

According to the THL, Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 have become the major variants of coronavirus in some European countries and also in some parts of Finland since mid-June this year. The variants are known for their ability to evade immune defenses.

Due to BA.4 and BA.5, COVID-19 cases could accelerate in Finland in late summer, the THL's chief physician Hanna Nohynek said, adding that offering the fourth vaccine dose at the beginning of August will give the elderly and members of risk groups extra protection against a serious disease earlier than scheduled.

According to the THL, vaccines tailored against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants of coronavirus could be used in Finland later in the autumn. However, health officials said that even current vaccines also protect well from serious diseases caused by the variants.

Since March this year, Finland's health authority has recommended gradually offering the fourth vaccine dose to the elderly and to those who belong to risk groups. Previously, the fourth vaccine shot was recommended for people aged 12 or older with severe immunodeficiencies; people aged 80 and older; elderly residents of nursing homes; elderly recipients of home or informal care; other elderly people with health problems or reduced ability to function; and those 70-79-year-olds who belong to risk groups. Enditem

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