A health care professional administered a dose of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in Helsinki in January 2022. Political debate over how widely booster doses should be offered this autumn and winter has continued in Finland, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) on Sunday voicing her bafflement at what she viewed was a unique approach to the vaccinations. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)


PRIME MINISTER Sanna Marin (SDP) has expressed her bafflement with the approach taken to booster vaccinations against Covid-19 in Finland.

“I find it hard to understand what’s the problem with vaccinations given that we have vaccines and we’re even ready to get more of them,” she stated during her regular interview on YLE Radio Suomi on Sunday. “I’m all for giving the shot to everyone who wants it.”

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), she added, should have been able to explain more comprehensively why vaccines are not being offered as broadly as in many other countries.

Mika Salminen, the director of health security at THL, rejected the criticism in an interview with Ilta-Sanomat on Sunday, arguing that it is a misconception that the national vaccination recommendations differ from those of other countries in the EU.

“The recommendations are pretty similar, but in some countries the political decisions have been made that the vaccines may be needed,” he stated to the daily.

Salminen also stressed that the vaccines do not have to be administered simply because they are readily available from storage.

“The fact that they’re there isn’t a reason for using them all. The reason should be medical. They’ll expire at some point, and you shouldn’t feel anxious because of that. You have to accept that they won’t all be used,” he said.

The question of coronavirus vaccinations has become politicised during the course of the autumn.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, led by Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP), has called for a different approach, instructing municipalities and well-being services counties to offer booster doses to everyone whose vaccination is deemed justified by the physician in charge of vaccinations locally.

THL, in turn, is recommending based on medical assessments that booster doses be offered to people aged 65 years or older and people who are at greater risk of developing severe forms of the disease due to a medical condition. Expanding the booster vaccination regime to cover the entire population is not medically justified, it believes.

Some hospital districts have aligned with the circular issued by the ministry, whereas others have reaffirmed their commitment to the recommendations from THL.

Central Finland Hospital District, for example, has justified not deviating from the medical recommendation by pointing out that assigning staff to administer vaccinations inevitably reduces resources elsewhere in the health care system, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT