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No further plans of extensions to the covid-19 vaccination program

Due to the high level of immunity in the population, the current 3rd wave of covid-19 is flattening. The high vaccine coverage in Denmark means that we can handle the high incidence of infection without severe illness; this is especially due to many given booster doses. Therefore, the Danish Health Authority has assessed that a 3rd dose to people under the age of 18 and a 4th dose for further groups will not be offered for the time being. The Danish Health Authority is also considering to phase out the covid-19 vaccination program later in the spring.

18 FEB 2022

Although we still see a very high daily infection rate of covid-19, there are now signs that the epidemic has reached its peak. One of the main reasons for this is a high expected immunity in the Danish population due to a high vaccine coverage against covid-19 in Denmark and the fact that many Danes have been infected with covid-19 within the last month following the onset of the omicron variant. Furthermore, we know from experience that as we head into spring, the infection rate will fall with the change of seasons.

On the basis of the current situation, the Danish Health Authority has reassessed the need of further vaccination against covid-19 of certain groups. These assessment includes a 4th dose to nursing home residents and people over the age of 85 a 3rd dose to people under the age of 18, and as the basis for recommending vaccination of 5-11 year-olds.

A 4th dose is currently not needed for many groups

Previous assessment by the Danish Health Authority showed that elders living in nursing homes and people over the age of 85 are well protected after a 3rd dose of vaccination. Following a further review of the evidence, the Danish Health Authority has assessed that a 4th dose is currently not necessary to the oldest citizens.

“The high level of societal contagion has caused more infection at nursing homes and in the oldest age groups. Fortunately, at the same time we have seen that only a few in these groups have experienced severe illness, which means there is a continued strong protection from the 3rd dose. At the same time, we are also seeing a decline in the epidemic, and with spring soon arriving, we do not see the need for people living in nursing homes and people over 85 being offered a 4th dose this season” says Director of Preparedness and infectious disease at the Danish Health Authority, Bolette Søborg, also adding:

“The Danish Health Authority will of course follow the epidemic closely, and we are ready to change our decision, if, against expectation, a fourth wave or a worrisome variant is detected during spring.”

No 3rd dose to people under the age of 18

In the light of the current situation, the Danish Health Authority concurrently also determine that there is no substantial basis for offering a 3rd dose to people under the age of 18. The fact that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not approved a 3rd dose to people under the age of 18 adds to the decision of the Danish Health Authority, as well as an expected high level of immunity and low risk of severe illness as a result of infection with omicron for this age group.

Vaccination of the 5-11 year-olds has increased the immunity in the population during a critical time and protected children against severe illness

When the Danish Health Authority decided to expand the vaccination program against covid-19 in November 2021, the delta variant was the dominant variant and a significant amount of contagion happened between unvaccinated children. This caused a risk of children spreading the desease to older generations, leading to increased risk of severe illness and limited hospital capacity.

In a review made during the fall, the Danish Health Authority assessed that vaccination of 5-11 year-olds could increase immunity in the population and thereby be an important contribution to management of the epidemic in Denmark at a critical time.

The conditions changed with the emergence of the omicron variant, where the covid-19 vaccination showed a lower effect against the spread of the variant, but where the risk of severe illness at the same time were reduced. Based on this, the Danish Health Authority has updated its assessment to also look at how much vaccination of 5-11 year-olds actually contribute to the improvement of the immunity in the population and to the disease prevention at the current status of the epidemic. The new review shows that the contribution of vaccinating 5-11 year-olds has been half of what was expected, but at the same time, it also shows that the serious MIS-C covid-19 syndrome was significantly more prevalent in unvaccinated children.

“We extended the vaccination program to also include 5-11 year-olds in November, and I am satisfied with a coverage of about half the population. The effect of it is less than we had anticipated because we faced a different variant underway, but our new assessment shows that despite everything, by including the 5-11 year-olds in the vaccination program we have increased the immunity in the population against omicron by approx. 2 % at an important time of the epidemic. Even though children typically are not faced with severe illness due to covid-19 and that the protection of the children was not the primary reason for extending the vaccination program to this age group, we are happy to see very few vaccinated children getting the severe covid-19 syndrome MIS-C” says Bolette Søborg.

Bolette Søborg adds that the Danish Health Authority will continue to recommend vaccination of children during the winter because of the protection against MIS-C. For the same reason, the Danish Health Authority recommend that children will finish the primary vaccination program with a second dose.

The Danish Health Authority plans to phase out the vaccination program against covid-19

Due to the high level of immunity in the population andsigns showing that the curve for the third wave is flattening, combined with the knowledge of infection rates normally declines with the seasons changing, the Danish Health Authority has decided to phase out the current vaccination program for all age groups - including the program for 5-11 year-olds.

The Danish Health Authority will follow the development of the epidemic closely in the coming weeks, and expect to announce the dates for phasing out the vaccination program at the end of February.

See the covid-19 surveillance data

See assessment on decision on vaccination with fourth dose of covid-19 vaccine for residents in nursing homes and people over the age of 85 [in Danish]

See assessment of revaccination of adolescents aged 16-17 y/o [in Danish]

See assessment of covid-19 vaccination of children aged 5-11 y/o [in Danish]