Icelandic authorities hope to begin vaccinating the nation against COVID-19 on January 3, though the date could change. RÚV reports that around 140,000 people are in the first seven priority groups to receive the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccination will be free of charge and optional.
“We are working from the premise that we can start vaccinating immediately at the start of the new year and we even have a date, we would preferably like to start on January 3 if the vaccine has arrived by then, but if not we will take it day by day after that,” stated Ragnheiður Ósk Erlendsdóttir, Director of Nursing at the Capital Area Healthcare Centres.
Healthcare Staff and Elderly Prioritised
Dozens of staff are currently working to prepare the distribution and administering of COVID-19 vaccination in Iceland. Healthcare workers, hospital workers, and nursing home staff and residents are in the first two priority groups for vaccination outlined by health authorities. A total of 140,000 individuals are in the first seven priority groups, which include essential workers such as paramedics and police, those with underlying and chronic illnesses, and those over 60.
In early December, Iceland’s government announced that it aimed to vaccinate 75% of the nation by April. Director of Capital Area Healthcare Centres Óskar Reykdalsson has stated, however, that it would be possible to vaccinate most of the population within a few days, provided that all of the doses Iceland has ordered arrive at once. Iceland will receive vaccines from at least three different manufacturers but it is not known whether the orders will arrive all at once or in several shipments. COVID-19 vaccines are administered in two doses, and it takes one month from the first dose for immunity to develop.
Icelanders will not be able to book an appointment for vaccination but will instead receive an SMS notifying them of the time and place of their vaccination once they are next in line. Earlier this month, Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist recommended the public keep their optimism about the vaccine in check, as various factors could potentially delay their arrival in Iceland and their administering.