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COVID-19 vaccines in the Danish vaccination programme

Currently, the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are included in the Danish COVID-19 vaccination programme. Learn more about the vaccines in this section.

The vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are mRNA vaccines. The vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech har been authorised for use on people over the age of 16, whereas the vaccine from Moderne has been authorised for those aged 18 and older. Neither vaccine is authorised for use on pregnant or breastfeeding women.  

Efficacy

  • The vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech has a 95% efficacy rate.
  • The vaccine from Moderna has a 94% efficacy rate.

 

Interval between injections

  • You have to be injected twice with the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to achieve maximum protection against COVID-19. 
  • The second injection of the vaccine will take place approximately 5-6 weeks (35-42 days) after you received the first dose of the vaccine.

 

See when it is your turn to be vaccinated in:

Vaccination calendar

FAQ - About the vaccines

1. How are the COVID-19 vaccines approved?

When vaccines are approved for use in Denmark, experts from the Danish Medicines Agency work with colleagues from the other EU countries under the auspices of the European Medicines Agency  (EMA). If the EMA then concludes there is sufficient scientific evidence of the vaccine's efficacy and safety from large-scale clinical trials, it is approved for distribution throughout the EU countries.

Although we all wish for vaccines to be quickly and readily available, in terms of quality, efficacy and safety, COVID-19 vaccines are subject to same rigorous testing, scientific evaluation, approval and monitoring that applies to all medicines in the EU. 

Learn more about the development, evaluation, approval and monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines on EMA's website.  

The Danish Health Authority is responsible for rolling out the national COVID-19 vaccination scheme. The Authority is already in charge of other national vaccination schemes such as annual influenza vaccines and the Danish Childhood Vaccination Programme.  

Once the vaccines have been approved and transported to Denmark, they are distributed and administered to the public as soon as possible, a logistic exercise that requires extensive coordination among the parties involved. The Danish Health Authority's planning aims at ensuring that the process does as smoothly as possible.

2. How have the vaccines been studied and tested?

Both of the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been studied and tested in extensive clinical and randomised trials, in which half of the human volunteers were given the vaccine, and the other half were given a placebo (saline injection). Upwards of 40,000 volunteers participated in the extensive trials - more than eight times the usual number in vaccine trials.

The volunteers were and continue to be monitored to see whether they get COVID-19 and whether they experience any adverse side effects. Many of them had minor and transient side effects when they were vaccinated, which is quite normal and evidence that your body's immune system reacts as it should to the vaccine. No unacceptable side effects were recorded during the trials. From other vaccines, we know that almost all side effects after vaccination occur within the first six weeks. 

The Danish and European medicines authorities closely monitor the vaccines after they are approved - both in terms of how well they work and how many side effects they cause.

The European Medicines Agency impose exactly the same strict requirements on vaccines' efficacy and safety as they always do.

Read more on Danish Medicines Agency's website

3. How well do the vaccines protect you?

The COVID-19 vaccines have been studied and tested in extensive clinical and randomised trials, in which half of the human volunteers were given the vaccine, and the other half were given a placebo (saline injection). 

The vaccine efficacy rate is calculated by a comparative study of the number of people who became infected with COVID-19 in the vaccination group with the number of people who became infected in the placebo group. 

The vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech has an efficacy rate of about 95%, and the vaccine from Moderna of about 94% - meaning that 95% of people who are vaccinated with the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech and 94% of those vaccinated with the vaccine fromModerna, respectively, will be protected from getting COVID-19.

Conversely, this does not mean that you are “only” protected, for example, 95%. Nor does it mean that you have a 5% risk of getting COVID-19 if you are vaccinated. 

In reality, the risk is much less because you have to take into account that the risk of getting COVID-19 at all is quite slim – regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not. 

At this point, it has not yet been established whether the vaccines prevents the vaccinated person from carrying the virus and spreading the infection to others. However, we expect to receive this documentation in due course.

4. What is in the vaccines?

The vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both so-called RNA based vaccines. They do not contain live virus, the active ingredients in the vaccine are broken down after they have done their job, and the vaccine's mRNA sequence (the molecule that tells cells what to build) does not affect the body's own DNA. 

RNA is a naturally occurring signalling agent in human body cells that encodes the formation of certain proteins. RNA based vaccines work by containing a specific code that stimulates the body's cells to produce a protein (S-protein) that resembles the surface of novel coronavirus.

The RNA vaccines work by encoding for spiked proteins that resemble the surface of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, they can stimulate the body's immune system to recognise this protein as foreign, and produce antibodies and activate T cells (white blood cells) to attack it and protect you against becoming infected and ill. 

 

Additives

The vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna contain additives which, among other things, are intended to stabilise RNA. RNA is wrapped in a small ball of fat that protects RNA from degradation and enables absorption into the body's cells. Some people (with so-called macrogol allergies) are allergic to one of the fat components, polyethylene glycol. The vaccines also contain minimal amounts of cholesterol, sugar and various salts. 

 

Watch the film

Information on COVID-19 vaccines

5. Do the vaccines contain ethanol (alcohol) or pork gelatin?

Neither the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or from Moderna contains ethanol (alcohol) or pork gelatin.  

 

Learn more about Islam and vaccination in:

FAQ about Islam and vaccination against COVID-19

6. What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

All vaccines have side effects, and this also applies to the COVID-19 vaccines. In general, these are mild and transient, and we consider both vaccines to be very safe and highly documented. 

 

Mild and transient side effects

Most people will experience pain at the injection site. Other common side effects include fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills, a slight rise in temperature, and redness and swelling at the injection site. These are generally signs that your body's immune system is reacting to the vaccine. You do not need to call your doctor if you experience these known and transient side effects. Please note that you should not worry if you are among those who do not experience any side effects - the vaccines will work regardless of whether you have any side effects or not. 

Experience with other vaccines tells us that almost all side effects occur within the first six weeks after vaccination. They very rarely occur later. Danish and European medicines authorities monitor the vaccines closely after they have been approved – not only in terms of how well they work but also in terms of how many side effects they cause.

However, there is a difference in how well the immune system in older and younger people responds to vaccines. Older people usually have less effectively reacting immune systems and typically experience fewer side effects. 

 

Rare side effects

In rare cases, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) may occur, which may be caused by, for example, allergies to the additives in the vaccines. 

If you have previously had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine - or after injecting a medicine - please consult your doctor before being vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are allergic to macrogol/PEG/polyethene glycol, you should not get vaccinated with the vaccines from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Morderna.

 

Learn more about the vaccines and their product characteristics at the Danish Medicines Agency’s website:

Authorised COVID-19 vaccines

7. Can I go out and buy a COVID-19 vaccine?

It is not possible to buy the vaccine. For the time being, all COVID-19 vaccines delivered to Denmark is distributed through the free vaccination programme. 

8. Do the vaccines protect against virus mutations?

It is perfectly natural for a virus to mutate. The more people who are infected with the virus, the more opportunities the virus has to mutate. Most mutations will be a disadvantage for viruses. For example, a mutation can make it less contagious, less robust or less viable. But sometimes a mutation will be beneficial for the virus. Therefore, by reducing the number of infected people, we also reduce the virus's ability and opportunity to mutate. 

It is still too early to say whether the new mutations pose a real threat or whether the available vaccines work against them, but the vaccines have proved effective against the British mutation B117, for example. 

Regarding any other mutations that have surfaced throughout the world, these have so far either not been discovered in Denmark – or only to a very limited extent – therefore, work on clarifying the effects of vaccines against them is still ongoing. But to put it simply, in order for the virus to mutate, there must be people to infect. Consequently, it follows that the more people who have been vaccinated, the fewer people can be infected, and the fewer mutations can occur.

9. It is known whether the mRNA vaccines can also cause rare blood clots?

No link has been found between the rare side effect, VITT (Vaccine-induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia) and the mRNA vaccines, even though far more people in Denmark have been given an mRNA vaccine than the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca.   

10. How do you store and distribute the vaccines?

The vaccines against COVID-19 are temperature sensitive and require both proper storage, transport and distribution. 

Read about the properties of each vaccine:

The vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech

Unopened Pfizer-BioNTech glass vials are stored at ultra-low freezing temperatures (between -80oC and -60oC). Once a vaccine vial is thawed and opened, it must be used within six hours and must not be shaken. Each vial contains six vaccine doses – so for each vial you open, there must be six people ready and waiting to be vaccinated.

Therefore, the vaccine from Pfizer-bioNTech is used to vaccinate people in locations where the vaccines can be stored and handled correctly and where there are several people present and ready to be vaccinated so that no doses are wasted.

 

The vaccine from Moderna

Unopened glass vials containing the vaccine from Moderna are stored at freezer temperature (-20oC). Once the vaccine vial is thawed and opened, it must be used within six hours and must not be shaken. Each glass contains ten vaccine doses – so for each vial you open, there must be ten people ready and waiting to be vaccinated.

Therefore, the vaccine from Moderna is used to vaccinate people in locations where the vaccines can be stored and handled correctly and where there are several people present and ready to be vaccinated so that no doses are wasted.

Updated 08 JUN 2021