Mika Salminen, the director of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), spoke to reporters in a joint press conference held by THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Helsinki on Thursday, 2 June 2022. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)


THE FINNISH Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has expanded its recommendation concerning the fourth round of coronavirus vaccinations.

THL on Thursday announced it is recommending fourth vaccine doses also for the roughly 300,000 70–79-year-old people who are at particular risk of developing severe forms of the coronavirus disease due to medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, diabetes and obesity.

Mika Salminen, the director of health security at THL, described the decision as substantial because a number of 70–79-year-olds are suffering from chronic diseases that increase the risk associated with infection.

Helsingin Sanomat asked Salminen why the fourth doses are not recommended for everyone in the age group.

“These people benefit the most clearly from the fourth dose,” he replied. “When it comes to others [in the age group], the protection offered by earlier vaccine doses is still fairly good. The vaccination may offer greater benefits at a later stage in their case.”

The fourth vaccine doses were previously recommended for people aged 12 or older with severe immunodeficiencies, people aged 80 or older, elderly residents of nursing homes, elderly recipients of home or informal care, and other elderly people with health problems or reduced ability to function.

Taneli Puumalainen, a director at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM), on Thursday expressed his hope that municipalities start offering the fourth doses to at-risk 70–79-year-olds without delay and that such people get vaccinated before the summer holidays.

“The disease can be serious especially if you don’t have protection from vaccines. Vaccines reduce the risk of severe forms of the disease,” he reminded.

THL and STM on Thursday held what was their final regular briefing about the epidemiological situation in Finland,

“It’s now time to say thank you,” stated Salminen. “This has included all sorts of concerns, sadness, death, sickness and hard times. That’s clear. We at THL and STM want to thank people for their everyday actions that have allowed us to overcome these difficult times. We want to first thank every resident of Finland for acting responsibly.”

He also voiced his gratitude to elected representatives, the central administration, various authorities, and health care professionals, entrepreneurs and organisations, as well as the media.

“Everyone has worked together – at least in the big picture,” he stated.

Nearly 1,100,000 coronavirus infections had been registered in Finland by late May. Over 2,000 people have received intensive care and roughly 14,000 special hospital care during what has been an over two-year pandemic.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT