Finland’s Covid vaccination rate will soon rise to 80% of people over 12, but it will not stop the epidemic

Ministers had set a target of four out of five people over the age of 12 to be vaccinated to remove the restrictions.

Finland may reach the target of 80 percent vaccination coverage among those over 12 years of age set on Friday, but health authorities say it is not enough to end the pandemic.

Earlier this year, the government set a target of 80 percent vaccination coverage to end covid restrictions. However, most of the restrictions were lifted before vaccination coverage reached this level.

Health officials criticized the decision, but the government justified the measure on the grounds that society had to be opened up because people no longer wanted to comply with Covid restrictions.

Shortly thereafter, the number of cases and the number of patients in the hospital began to increase. Restrictions on bars, nightclubs and restaurants remained in place in the worst-affected areas until at least mid-November.

There are still many unvaccinated people

There are still about 693,000 people aged 12 and over who have not been vaccinated. Vaccine coverage, including those 11 years of age and younger, is about 70 percent.

No decisions have been made in Finland to vaccinate children under the age of 12, but a working group to consider the matter is due to report at the end of November. Even if they decide to vaccinate younger children, the introduction of vaccination may be delayed.

"If we decide to vaccinate people aged 5 to 12 years, the vaccine will be different from those already used in people over 12 years of age," said THL vaccine expert Mia Kontio at a Covid event on Thursday.

"As the vaccine is not licensed in Europe for younger children, Pfizer-BioNTech has not yet estimated the delivery times for the vaccine. We may be able to get them this year, but that is not yet certain."

The 80 percent target was set in the belief that vaccination rates could reduce the number of infections.

Vaccinations have reduced the number of serious Covid cases and infections this fall, but the number of infections has ranged from 4,000 to 4,600 per week in recent weeks.

Covid patients in hospitals still need treatment for long periods of time, although the burden has been reduced through vaccinations. As long as the virus is present in the population, new infections are possible.

Vaccinations do not offer 100% protection against Covid, but one percent of those vaccinated in Finland suffer from a so-called breakthrough infection.

Reassessing your goal?

THL’s chief physician Otto Helve said on Thursday that Finland should strive to vaccinate as large a part of the population as possible.

According to Helve, the fact that 80 percent of the population has been vaccinated does not change anything – the virus stays in motion and patients are still in hospital, and the situation will not change in the coming weeks.

"This situation will not change tomorrow, it will not change in the coming days or weeks," said Halve. "Therefore, our goal is more than 80 percent vaccine coverage, the highest possible."

There are also large differences in vaccination coverage between municipalities and regions. This week, the 80 percent threshold has been reached in several hospital districts.

Eastern Finland has gained wider coverage than Western Finland, which, according to THL, is problematic and provides a “refuge” for the virus.

Source: The Nordic Page


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