Taneli Puumalainen, a director at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), and Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) were photographed at a news conference in Helsinki on Wednesday, 9 November 2022. Kiuru announced the ministerial task force on the coronavirus pandemic has decided to offer fourth vaccine doses to a broader group of Finns. (Antti Yrjönen – Str / Lehtikuva)


A BROADER GROUP of Finns can be offered booster doses of a coronavirus vaccine, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) announced on Wednesday.

Kiuru stated at a news conference that municipalities and well-being services counties can offer fourth vaccine doses independently to any groups whose vaccination is warranted according to the assessment of physicians in charge of vaccinations – to healthy working-age people, for example.

“Municipalities and well-being counties can decide whether to comply with the current recommendations of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL),” she was quoted saying by STT. “Although the ministerial task force on the coronavirus [pandemic] concluded that vaccines can be offered also to healthy working-age people if necessary, it may be that not all organisers do so for one reason or another.”

THL is presently recommending that fourth doses be offered to people aged 65 years or older and people aged 18 years or older with medical conditions that predispose them to severe forms of Covid-19. Its recommendation is expected to remain unchanged.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will issue a circular about the decision on booster doses. Taneli Puumalainen, a director at THL, on Wednesday reminded that a number of open questions are still being reviewed with the institute to make sure the recommendations are as unambiguous as possible.

Kiuru estimated also that the vaccination programme has not been a resounding success because “too many people” in need of vaccine remain unvaccinated. Authorities, she added, should have moved forward sooner with the booster shots.

“This hasn’t been a rocket train,” she said.

The decision by the ministerial task force is an attempt to ensure the booster shots are available to people who want them to the greatest possible extent. “But we can’t force municipalities into any single mould,” she conceded.

Hanna Nohynek, a chief physician at THL, on Wednesday declined to comment on the expansion of the booster vaccination programme. THL announced at the end of last month it is not planning on revising its existing vaccination recommendations.

“And it’s my impression that we’re still of that view,” Nohynek told Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT