A person received a dose of a coronavirus vaccine in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki, on 25 February 2022. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is instructing municipalities to offer booster doses to everyone whose vaccination is deemed justified by local infectious diseases experts. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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THE MINISTRY of Social Affairs and Health last week issued a circular stating that municipalities and well-being services counties have an obligation to offer a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine to everyone whose vaccination is deemed justified by the physician in charge of vaccinations.

Municipalities were also instructed to look into the possibility of local occupational health care providers participating in the vaccinations, if necessary to ensure the doses can be offered without delay.

The ministry estimated that occupational health care providers participating in the vaccinations should improve the availability of vaccines and increase the likelihood that the vaccinations are not slowed down by staff shortages.

While the circular provides instructions for distributing and implementing the vaccinations, municipalities and counties themselves will organise the vaccinations and communicate where locals can get vaccinated.

The booster doses can be offered to everyone aged five years or older based on the judgement of the physician in charge of vaccinations in the municipality or county. Taking the dose will be voluntary.

The ministerial working group on the coronavirus pandemic outlined last week that the administration of booster doses should be expanded by allowing municipalities to offer the doses also to working-age people without any medical conditions that predispose them to severe forms of Covid-19.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is not intent on revising its vaccination recommendation, it stated in late October.

It presently recommends a three-dose vaccine regimen for healthy 18–59-year-olds and a four-dose regimen for healthy 60–64-year-olds. It also recommends that additional booster doses be offered during this autumn and winter to severely immunocompromised people aged 12 years or older, people aged 18 years or older who are considered at risk of the disease and people aged 65 years or older.

Booster doses are not recommended to everyone on grounds that the recommended regimen continues to protect under healthy 65-year-olds well against severe forms of the disease.

The Hospital District of Lapland has already deviated from the recommendation. In October, it issued a regional recommendation that fourth vaccine doses be administered to social and health care personnel.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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