Denmark has become the first country to halt its Covid vaccination program, saying it is doing so because the virus is now under control.
“Spring has arrived, vaccine coverage in the Danish population is high, and the epidemic has reversed,” the Danish Health Authority said in a statement Wednesday.
“Therefore, the National Board of Health is now ending the broad vaccination efforts against Covid-19 for this season,” it said. People will not be invited for vaccines from May 15, it said, although everyone will be able to finish their course of vaccination.
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Denmark’s Covid vaccination campaign began soon after Christmas in 2020. Some 4.8 million citizens have been vaccinated, the health authority said, with more than 3.6 million people receiving a booster shot.
At the same time, many people have been infected since the omicron variant became the dominant strain of the virus, it said, meaning immunity levels among the population are high.
“We are in a good place,” Bolette Soborg, unit manager at the National Board of Health, commented.
“We have good control of the epidemic, which seems to be subsiding. Admission rates [to hospitals] are stable and we also expect them to fall soon. Therefore, we are rounding up the mass vaccination program against Covid-19.”
Soborg insisted that the public can still be vaccinated over the spring and summer if they want, and that vaccination sites will remain open around the country.
He added that immunization was still recommended to people for whom Covid poses a heightened risk, such as those over the age of 40 and for unvaccinated pregnant women. “We also continue to recommend that you complete your started vaccination course,” he said.
Vaccinations likely to resume
Denmark’s move to suspend its vaccination program comes as the Covid situation around the world remains mixed. Europe and the U.S. have abandoned most Covid restrictions, but China is still imposing (or considering) lockdowns as the virus spreads in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing.
Far from scrapping its vaccination program altogether, however, the Danish Health and Medicines Authority said there will probably be a need to vaccinate against Covid-19 again in the fall as the virus continues to mutate.
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New variants have emerged over the course of the pandemic, which is now into its third year. These have eroded the efficacy of the Covid vaccines that were developed in record time in 2020, although the shots authorized for use in the West remain effective at preventing serious infection, hospitalization and death from Covid-19.
With the vaccination program likely to restart in a few months’ time, Denmark’s health experts will be looking at who should be vaccinated, when the shots should be given and which vaccines should be used.
The Danish Health and Medicines Authority said it would continue to follow the development of the epidemic closely, and is ready to restart vaccination efforts again if there is a need to immunize additional target groups before the fall.