An elderly person received a jab of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and Biontech at Tapiola Health Centre in Espoo on 28 January 2021. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)


THE VACCINATIONS of 85-year-olds and older residents, as well as their informal caregivers, began in Helsinki on Monday.

The City of Helsinki on Monday said about 3,000 of its approximately 14,000 residents aged 85 or older have already been vaccinated against the new coronavirus on account that they are clients of care services.

The vaccinations are administered at three locations across the city, according to Helsingin Sanomat: at Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute in Malmi, a former shipyard warehouse in Jätkäsaari and the campus of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Myllypuro.

Interest in the vaccinations has been enormously high among local residents. Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday wrote that the phone service set up for the reservations was busy, with up to 3,000 people waiting at one point. The employees staffing the phones had a backlog of around 1,000 calls this morning.

“The delays in callbacks are unfortunate, even though everyone who rang the booking system will receive a callback and be offered a vaccination time,” assured Leena Turpeinen, the head of health and substance abuse services at the City of Helsinki.

The city revealed that over 4,000 people have already reserved a vaccination appointment, adding that no appointments are available before next week. A shipment of roughly 6,000 doses of the vaccine is expected to arrive in the city this week, but the majority of the doses will be used on booster injections. Around 2,500 doses, meanwhile, have been set aside for vaccinating the elderly during the course of this week.

The next group to be invited to the vaccinations will be people aged 80–84 years and their informal caregivers.

“If the AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended nationally also for the elderly, the current estimate is they will be invited to the vaccinations in week seven [starting on 15 February]. The exact number of available vaccine doses remains unknown,” the press release reads.

Also people who have yet been invited to the vaccinations have called the booking system

“Even though we are all impatiently waiting for our turn to get vaccinated, we have to continue to wait until it is our turn. We will communicate widely once new groups are invited to the vaccinations. Everyone aged 70 years or older will receive a notification to their home when it is their turn,” underlined Turpeinen.

Espoo began the vaccinations last week. Vantaa, in turn, has already announced it is accepting reservations for vaccination appointments from people aged 80 years or older.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Friday reported that the number of laboratory-confirmed infections has risen by 363 to 44,402 in Finland. The total includes 102 infections caused by the variant found in Great Britain and 10 by the variant found in South Africa.

The death toll from the virus rose by seven to 671.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT