Health workers prepare injection syringes with a Covid-19 vaccine in 2021 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The country has now announced that it will suspend its vaccination program and will review whether it is needed later in the year.
Ole Jensen | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Denmark has become the first country to stop its Covid vaccination programme, saying it is doing so because the virus is now under control.
“Spring has come, vaccine coverage in Denmark is high and the epidemic has been reversed,” the Danish Health Authority said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Therefore, the National Health Board is now ending extensive vaccination efforts against Covid-19 for this season,” she added. She added that people will not be invited to receive vaccinations from May 15, although everyone will be able to finish the course of vaccination.
Denmark’s COVID vaccination campaign began shortly after Christmas in 2020. The health authority said about 4.8 million citizens have been vaccinated, and more than 3.6 million people have received a booster dose.
Meanwhile, she added, many people have been infected since the Omicron variant became the dominant strain of the virus, which means immunity levels in the population are high.
“We are in a good position,” commented Paulette Soborg, unit director at the National Council of Health.
“We have good control of the epidemic that appears to be receding. Acceptance rates [to hospital] Stable and we also expect it to fall soon. Therefore, we are compiling a comprehensive vaccination program against Covid-19.”
Soborg insisted that the public could still be vaccinated during the spring and summer if they wished, and that vaccination sites would remain open across the country.
He added that vaccination is still recommended for people to whom Covid poses an increased risk, such as those over the age of 40 and unvaccinated pregnant women. “We also continue to recommend that you complete the course of vaccination you have started,” he said.
Denmark’s move to suspend its vaccination program comes as the Covid situation around the world remains mixed. Europe and the United States have abandoned most Covid restrictions, but China is still imposing (or considering) lockdowns as the virus spreads to major cities like Shanghai and Beijing.
Far from scrapping the vaccination program entirely, Denmark’s Health and Medicines Authority said there will likely be a need to vaccinate against Covid-19 again in the fall as the virus continues to mutate.
New variables have emerged over the course of the pandemic, which is entering its third year. This has eroded the efficacy of Covid vaccines developed in record time in 2020, even though the shots authorized for use in the West are still effective in preventing serious infection, hospitalization and death from Covid-19.
With the vaccination program likely to resume in a few months, Danish health experts will be looking at who should be vaccinated, when and which vaccines should be given.
The Danish Health and Medicines Authority said it will continue to closely follow the development of the epidemic, and is ready to resume vaccination efforts again if there is a need to vaccinate additional target groups before autumn.