All people in Denmark over the age of 50 will be offered a fourth vaccine against coronavirus, said PM Mette Frederiksen at a press conference on Wednesday.
Certain vulnerable groups, such as nursing home residents and senior citizens, will be offered the fourth jab as soon as mid-September. All remaining Danes over 50 will be eligible from October 1.
At-risk individuals under the age of 50, such as those with weakened immune systems, may also be eligible to receive the booster at the discretion of a general practitioner or physician. Some may receive their next dose as early as next week.
The decision to step up vaccination efforts is being made in response to the increased spread of the BA.5 variant, which has some epidemiologists predicting that infection rates will increase come the autumn.
“We have a new variant that is spreading rapidly in Europe and Denmark. The health authorities assess that BA.5 is more contagious than the Omicron variant we have had,” said the PM.
No need to panic
While urging caution, experts emphasise there is no cause for alarm.
“The variant does not seem to make us sicker, and the vaccines protect well against serious illness and hospitalisation,” said Henrik Ullum, the head of the Statens Serum Institut.
“At the same time, it seems that those who have previously been infected with the Omicron variant have good protection against infection.”
Parties in agreement
PM Frederiksen’s vaccination strategy has received broad support, and the parties in government have largely agreed on the need to have contingency plans in place for the management of the virus.
“We must have a vaccination plan,” Venstre MP Martin Geertsen told TV2.
“We simply cannot have that we once again experience children being unable to come to school and restaurants having to close at 22.00. It simply has to be managed.”