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Denmark, Finland Prepare COVID Booster Shots Amid Contradictory Vaccine Assessment

© AP Photo / David GoldmanIn this Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 file photo, a droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Providence, R.I.
In this Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 file photo, a droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Providence, R.I. - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.08.2021
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While the Danish authority said the vaccines "are no longer having such a good effect", the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said there are no signs that their efficiency has dwindled. Still, both are making plans for booster shot campaigns targeting the most vulnerable.
The Danish Health Authority is working on guidelines for which citizens should be given third vaccine shots to ensure that they have sufficient protection against COVID-19.
The agency's deputy director, Helene Probst, suggested that the vaccines are "no longer having such a good effect", thereby hampering a further analysis of the situation. "But we will not hesitate to recommend a third dose if it turns out that there is falling immunity among those who have been vaccinated", she said in a statement.
"It will be patients with very weakened immune systems who have therefore not had such a good effect from the vaccine", Probst continued. "That would typically be cancer patients who have received chemotherapy, or people who have received organ transplants, or patients with immune diseases".
Residents of nursing homes will be next in line, but only if there are signs that the immunity obtained from the vaccinations given earlier this year is starting to wane.
Probst said her agency was carefully monitoring the number of fully vaccinated people being admitted to hospital in Denmark to see if there are any signs of dwindling immunity. She also stressed an "enormously high level of support for vaccines, not least in the vulnerable groups and among health and care staff".
"Some vaccines last a lifetime, some last for a number of years, and some require a jab once a year. We need to know how long the vaccines work before we can take that decision", she noted.
Meanwhile, health officials in Finland have started preparing for a COVID vaccine booster campaign this winter, even though the government is yet to make a final decision on whether such doses are needed.
Unlike their Danish counterparts, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has maintained that the vaccines appear to retain their effectiveness.
"There are no signs now that the efficacy has dwindled", ministry spokesman Taneli Puumalainen told national broadcaster Yle, noting that the coronavirus situation this autumn would indicate whether a third dose is needed after full vaccination.
 Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.08.2021
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Should Finland decide to roll out a new mass inoculation campaign against coronavirus, the boosters would also initially target vulnerable individuals. In the words of Puumalainen, the third shots would primarily target residents at elder care facilities, the elderly, and individuals with chronic conditions.
At the same time, Family Affairs and Social Services Minister Krista Kiuru said that a surge in COVID cases this autumn would demand vaccination coverage of up to 90 percent for society to completely reopen, calling on the authorities to step up in order to get the fourth wave under control. She also mused that achieving coverage upward of 85 percent is "very difficult".
Internationally, Germany is considering giving all citizens a third dose, several Swiss provinces are already administering booster shots, and France plans to start giving booster doses starting next month. The US is already administering third shots to citizens with compromised immune systems.
 
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