A medical professional administered a doze of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine in a vaccination centre in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki, on 8 April 2021. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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THE PACE of Covid-19 vaccinations varies significantly from region to region in Finland, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

While the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) has administered a vaccine dose to 43 per cent of 65–69-year-olds, the corresponding share stands at 18 per cent in Päijät-Häme and eight per cent in Kainuu.

Dramatic differences are found also in the share of 70–74-year-olds who have been vaccinated against the respiratory disease. While at least 75 per cent of the age group have been vaccinated in HUS and Vaasa, the share stands at 29 per cent in Kainuu.

“The number of vaccine recipients effectively depends on the number of vaccine doses each region has received,” Kimmo Kuosmanen, the medical director of primary health care services at Päijät-Häme Joint Authority for Social and Health Care, noted to Helsingin Sanomat.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has estimated that the oldest age groups will have been vaccinated in all parts of the country by 18 or 25 April.

“It may be that we’ll have to rush a bit,” conceded Mia Kontio, a senior specialist at THL.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) and Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko (Centre) have outlined that vaccine deliveries should be targeted at regions with the worst epidemiological situation only after risk groups in all parts of the country have received at least the first vaccine dose. THL is currently estimating that risk groups will have been vaccinated the midway point of next month.

Also the epidemiological situation varies significantly from region to region. On Friday, the two-week incidence of cases stood at 235 per 100,000 inhabitants in HUS, 171 per 100,000 inhabitants in South-west Finland, 46 per 100,000 inhabitants in Central Finland and nine per 100,000 inhabitants in Lapland.

The vaccine coverage rose to approximately a third in the 70–74-year-old age group toward the end of last week in North Karelia. It remains under 30 per cent in Kainuu.

“That’s admittedly very low. Nationwide we’re talking about more than 60 per cent for this age group,” said Kontio.

Olli-Pekka Koukkari, the pandemic manager in Kainuu, is nevertheless optimistic, as the region is expecting a large shipment of vaccines in the coming days: “In light of these deliveries, we’ll have vaccinated all over 70-year-olds by the end of next week. In other words, we’re catching up at a rapid pace,” he stated to Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday.

Kainuu, on the other hand, has vaccinated a larger-than-average share of 40–64-year-olds.

“The vaccines were allocated to critical social and health care workers in the early stages, and their proportion [of the population of] a region with a small population is large,” explained Koukkari.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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