In Helsinki, preparations are being made to start distributing the second booster vaccination rounds of the Covid vaccine to people over 60 and other risk groups.
Lasse LehtonenThe head of diagnostic services at Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) said he hopes that the Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) will make a decision on the vaccination schedule soon.
There are currently two Covid vaccination points in Helsinki, located in the Malmi and Jätkäsaari areas, and more will be opened in the fall. Timo Carpén, the city’s medical director. The city has already hired more people to help manage the pits.
Carpén said the city expects THL to update guidelines on vaccination schedules, adding that it will respond to any changes. Since vaccine managers are recruited separately, there are currently no plans to transfer city personnel to these positions.
"We open appointments to book an appointment as soon as possible when [various affected] groups are vaccinated nationally" Carpen said.
Lehtonen stated that there are two to three million Covid vaccines in Finland, so there should be enough for those to be vaccinated. However, some vaccinations expire in September.
"This is also an argument for starting vaccinations in August at the latest," Lehtonen said.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recommended on Monday that everyone over the age of 60 and those in risk groups receive a fourth dose of the vaccine as soon as possible.
THL announced earlier this month that it will recommend a fourth dose of the vaccine for everyone aged 65 and over starting in mid-August. According to the plans, the second boost would be introduced in September for people over 60 and those in risk groups aged 15–59.
However, THL’s chief physician Hanna Nohynek said Thursday that the health authority may decide to speed up the distribution of shots.
Vaccination coverage saves hospital resources
According to Lehtonen, the Covid situation at HUS was currently relatively stable. However, as the BA.5 subvariant spreads, it can circumvent the protection provided by vaccines and previous coronavirus infections.
Additionally, a more infectious variant (BA.2.75) has started to spread in some parts of the world, including India, and has also been confirmed in some European countries.
According to Lehtonen, it is only a matter of time when the variant spreads to Finland. He estimates that new infections caused by BA.2.75 will occur in Finland between November and December.
Until long-acting vaccines become available, booster vaccinations will probably have to be continuously renewed, especially for those with an increased risk of contracting serious Covid disease, Lehtonen predicted.
"Although vaccines may not protect against infection, they still provide good protection against serious diseases," Lehtonen pointed out.
"Maintaining vaccine coverage is crucial to securing medical care. The staffing situation is difficult, so even a small wave of Covid poses challenges for specialized medical care," Lehtonen said.
Source: The Nordic Page