Mia Kontio, a chief specialist at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), briefed the media about the coronavirus situation in Finland in Helsinki on Thursday, 24 March 2022. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


THE FINNISH Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is recommending a fourth vaccine injection against the coronavirus for people aged 80 or older and elderly residents of nursing homes.

“This is our attempt to prevent severe forms of the disease caused by the current epidemiological peak and current high number of infections,” Mia Kontio, a chief specialist at THL, stated in a news conference in Helsinki on Thursday.

The number of deaths among 80-year-olds and older has increased during the first few months of 2022.

With the number of over 80-year-olds who have received three vaccine doses standing at 280,000 and the number of younger residents of nursing homes at about 20,000, the total number of doses required for the vaccinations is about 300,000. The target group received the third injections around three months ago between November and December, according to Kontio.

“The vaccines, even three doses, unfortunately don’t raise the protection too high for the very elderly because of their age and immunity,” she said.

Under 80-year-olds, however, continue to develop great protection against the coronavirus disease from the third injection. Kontio gauged that for them the fourth round of vaccinations will not become topical until next autumn.

THL has previously recommended fourth vaccine injections for the immunocompromised.

Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, a leading expert at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, on Thursday reminded that the epidemic is showing no signs of abating. The number of coronavirus-infected hospital patients, for example, has risen by nearly 50 per cent since the start of the month to 696 on Wednesday.

Roughly a third of them, though, were receiving treatment primary for another ailment.

“The day when this situation eases will come, but the day isn’t yet on the horizon,” commented Voipio-Pulkki.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT