Chief Epidemiologist Turns Down Priority Vaccination Spot Skip to content

Chief Epidemiologist Turns Down Priority Vaccination Spot

By Yelena

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason
Photo: Golli. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.

Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason turned down his first invitation to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a healthcare professional and will wait until he is invited based on his age group. “I’m not working with patients, so I’ll wait,” Þórólfur told Vísir reporters. Þórólfur has encouraged other licenced healthcare professionals in his situation to do the same.

Icelandic health authorities began vaccinating against COVID-19 on December 29, 2020, according to defined priority groups. The first to get vaccinated were nursing home residents and frontline healthcare workers. Now vaccination has been offered to the fifth priority group: healthcare professionals working outside of healthcare institutions. The Chief Epidemiologist was offered vaccination on that basis.

Þórólfur turned down the offer as he is not working directly with patients and has encouraged others in his position to do the same and wait until they are offered the jab based on their age group. It will likely be a short wait for Þórólfur: vaccination of locals born in 1951 began this week, and the Chief Epidemiologist was born in 1953.

Everyone on Permit Register Received Invitation

While frontline healthcare workers have already been offered vaccination in Iceland, now the jab is being offered to priority group number five, defined as “other healthcare staff that have direct contact with patients and require COVID-19 vaccination according to further definitions by the Chief Epidemiologist.” The group includes 33 diverse healthcare professions ranging from nurses and midwives to optometrists, dentists, and speech pathologists.

Read More: What’s the status of COVID-19 vaccination in Iceland?

There are around 20,000 locals with valid licences in one of these professions, and it was not possible for authorities to contact everyone on the permit register to confirm they are currently working in a clinical setting. Therefore, all those with valid licences received an invitation to get vaccinated, but the Chief Epidemiologist’s Office sent out a notice urging those who are working in other jobs to turn down the invitation.

Chronically Ill and Under 70 Next in Line

The next priority groups are those with chronic illnesses under 70 years of age. Some individuals from these groups will be vaccinated this week.  So far 28,056 people have been fully vaccinated in Iceland, or 7.6% of the population. Authorities have stated they are on track to vaccinate 280,000 people (75% of the population) by mid-July.

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