A person received a shot of a coronavirus vaccine in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki, on 27 October 2021. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNISH INSTITUTE for Health and Welfare (THL) has submitted a proposal to expand the third round of coronavirus vaccinations to social and health care professionals treating clients or patients who are vulnerable to the rampant virus.

A second booster injection could be administered also to other social and health care staff based on a local determination.

“Mild and even asymptomatic infections among social and health care personnel can cause a risk of infection to the patients at serious risk of the coronavirus disease they treat,” reads a press release issued by THL on Thursday.

The proposal will not automatically signal the expansion of the third round of vaccinations, however. Officials at THL and Ministry of Social Affairs and Health must first determine whether any legislative amendments are necessary to implement the proposal.

Hanna Nohynek, a chief physician at THL, told Helsingin Sanomat that the objective of the proposal is to indirectly protect people at risk of serious forms of the coronavirus disease and, as a result, maintain the capacity of the health care system. Although vaccine uptake among social and health care staff is higher than the population at large, a considerable amount of time may have passed since they received the second vaccine injection.

“[I]mmunity against infection and transmission decreases to roughly 50 per cent in six months, meaning asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic breakthrough infections are a possibility – as are consequently further infections,” she said.

Outbreaks in social and health care units for risk groups have taken place in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. In Raasepori Hospital, for example, patients have contracted the virus despite receiving both vaccine injections.

“We can expect more of this as more time passes since social and health care people got the second dose,” noted Nohynek.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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