Iceland’s first mass vaccination took place in the Laugardalshöll arena yesterday, RÚV reports. Vaccinations will continue today and next week with all three vaccines that have received conditional marketing authorisations in Iceland.
377 frontline workers within the police, fire department, and medical transport were vaccinated in Laugardalshöll yesterday in 30 minutes. This was their second injection of the Moderna vaccine. People waited in line until they received the call to get their upper arms out in the injection sites.
After receiving the injections, people must stay for fifteen minutes under the watchful eye of healthcare workers in case of side effects. No one experienced serious side effects after their injection yesterday and according to medical staff on site, everyone was feeling happy and joyful.
The government has signed contracts providing enough vaccine for all Icelanders but the distribution schedule is still unclear after March. Roughly 30.400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in February and March. In February, we also expect to receive 4800 doses of the Moderna vaccine and just under 14.200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. While the initial progress of vaccinations is slow, according to the Ministry of Health, we can realistically expect a considerable increase in vaccine shipments in the next quarter, April-June. Vaccine production capacity will likely increase, and more vaccine producers are expected to receive conditional marketing authorisations. Iceland follows the European Union in vaccine negotiations, which is currently in talks with two more vaccine producers, the American company Novavax and the French company Valneva.
The projected economic rebound is intrinsically linked to the speed of vaccination efforts so there’s a lot to be gained. The Central Bank of Iceland’s economic forecast is based on the government’s goal of vaccinating the majority of the nation by mid-year. Today, about 3.6% of the nation have received either one or both vaccine injections. Economist Ásdís Kristjánsdóttir Deputy Director of SA Confederation of Icelandic enterprise stated that authorities need to confirm if their goals are still realistic. Iceland’s economy has been harder hit than many other countries due to the importance of the tourism industry but Ásdís told RÚV that it was important to present the prospective changes of border restrictions, set to take effect May 1, with plenty of notice.
Come May 1, passengers who fulfil certain conditions and are arriving from green and orange countries where infection rates are low can be exempt from the five-day quarantine and second border test. Under the current conditions, only passengers from Greece, Norway, and parts of Denmark and Finland would be eligible.
“The next few months will be hugely important for Icelandic tourism,” Ásdís continued. “On the other hand, it’s important for Icelandic tourism and the economy as a whole that the pandemic subsides abroad.”
Icelandic businesses, especially in tourism have called for predictability in pandemic efforts, something the Chief Epidemiologist has repeatedly stated is hard to give due to the uncertainty of the pandemic’s development. Ásdís stated: “If we can have any predictability, concerning the vaccination process and when the majority of the nation will be vaccinated it would be an improvement for both families and enterprises in Iceland.”