Denmark becomes first country to end Covid vaccination program

Medical staff preparing injection syringes with the Covid-19 vaccine in 2021 in Copenhagen, Denmark. the country has now announced that it will suspend its vaccination program and consider whether it is necessary later this year.

Ole Jensen | News Getty Images | Getty Images

Denmark has become the first country to suspend its Covid vaccination program, saying it is doing so because the virus is now under control.

“Spring has arrived, vaccination coverage in Denmark is high and the epidemic has reversed,” the Danish Health Authority said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Therefore, the National Board of Health is currently ending its broad Covid-19 vaccination efforts this season,” it said in a statement. From May 15, people will not be invited for vaccinations, although everyone will be able to take a course of vaccination.

The Covid vaccination campaign in Denmark started shortly after Christmas in 2020. Some 4.8 million citizens have been vaccinated and more than 3.6 million people have been boosted, according to the health authority.

At the same time, many people have been infected since the omicron variant became the dominant strain of the virus, the report said, indicating a high level of immunity in the population.

“We are in good health,” commented Bolette Soborg, head of the division at the National Board of Health.

“We have good control over the epidemic, which seems to be on the wane. Hospitalization rates [to hospital] are stable and we also expect them to drop soon. Therefore, we are phasing out the mass vaccination program against Covid-19.”

Soborg insisted that the public could still be vaccinated in the spring and summer if they wanted to, and that vaccination sites would remain open throughout the country.

He added that immunization is still recommended for people for whom Covid poses an increased risk, such as those over 40 and unvaccinated pregnant women. “We also continue to recommend that you complete the vaccination course you have started,” he said.

Vaccinations likely to resume

Denmark’s decision to suspend its vaccination program comes as the global Covid situation remains mixed. Europe and the US have abandoned most Covid restrictions, but China is still (or considering) lockdowns as the virus spreads in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

However, the Danish Health and Medicines Authority is not abandoning its vaccination program at all, but has said it will likely need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 again in the fall as the virus continues to mutate.

New options have emerged during the pandemic, which is now in its third year. This has undermined the effectiveness of Covid vaccines, which were developed in record time in 2020, although vaccines approved for use in the West are still effective in preventing serious infections, hospitalizations and death from Covid-19.

As the vaccination program is likely to resume in a few months, Danish health experts will be figuring out who should be vaccinated, when should be vaccinated and which vaccines should be used.

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority said it would continue to closely monitor the evolution of the epidemic and was ready to restart vaccination efforts again if it becomes necessary to immunize additional target groups before autumn.

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