Healthcare professionals prepare syringes with Covid-19 vaccine in 2021 in Copenhagen, Denmark. the country has now announced that it will suspend its vaccination program and will investigate whether it is necessary later in the year.
Ole Jensen | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Denmark has become the first country to stop its Covid vaccination program and says it does 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 and Medicines Authority said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Therefore, the National Board of Health is now ending the broad vaccination effort against Covid-19 for this season,” it said. People will not be invited to vaccines from May 15, it said, though everyone will be able to complete their vaccination course.
Denmark’s Covid vaccination campaign began shortly after Christmas in 2020. About 4.8 million citizens have been vaccinated, according to the health authority, with over 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 a good place,” says Bolette Soborg, unit manager at the National Board of Health.
“We have good control of the epidemic, which seems to be slowing down [to hospital] are stable and we also expect them to fall soon. That is why we are rounding up the mass vaccination program against Covid-19. “
Soborg insisted that the population can still be vaccinated over the spring and summer if they wish, and that the vaccination sites remain open around the country.
He added that immunization was still recommended for people for whom Covid poses an increased risk, such as those over the age of 40 and for unvaccinated pregnant women. “We also continue to recommend that you complete your initiated vaccination course,” he said.
Vaccinations are likely to resume
Denmark’s initiative to suspend its vaccination program comes as the Covid situation around the world remains mixed. Europe and the United States have given up most Covid restrictions, but China is still introducing (or considering) lockdowns as the virus spreads in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.
Far from scrapping its vaccination program altogether, however, the National Board of Health said there will likely be a need to vaccinate against Covid-19 again by the fall, as the virus continues to mutate.
New variants have emerged during the pandemic, which is now in its third year. These have eroded the effectiveness of the Covid vaccines, which were developed in record time in 2020, although the shots approved for use in the West remain effective in preventing serious infection, hospitalization and death from Covid-19.
With the vaccination program probably restarted in a few months, Denmark’s health experts will look at who should be vaccinated, when the shots should be given and which vaccines should be used.
The National Board of Health said they will continue to follow developments in the epidemic closely, and are ready to resume vaccination efforts if there is a need to vaccinate additional target groups before the autumn.