Iceland has vaccinated enough of its population against COVID-19 to avoid a local epidemic, though group outbreaks could still occur among those who have not received the jab, says Þórólfur Guðnason, the country’s Chief Epidemiologist. Iceland has thus achieved herd immunity, Þórólfur told RÚV, despite having not yet reached authorities’ stated goal of fully vaccinating 75% of the population. Over 52% of Icelandic residents ages 16 and over are fully vaccinated while another 28.8% have received one dose.
With just 15 active cases in the country, Iceland has not reported any new domestic cases of COVID-19 in five days. Þórólfur states that there is reason to further relax social restrictions, which currently limit gatherings to 300 people or less and require mask use for seated events and activities that require contact, such as hairdressing.
Þórólfur says the Icelandic nation has achieved herd immunity to COVID-19, though group outbreaks may still occur. He points out that herd immunity cannot be defined as a specific number, rather the collective immunity within the community that prevents a large epidemic. While 80-100% of older demographics are now fully vaccinated, Þórólfur points out that the rates remain lower among young people and they are therefore still at risk of infection and group outbreaks.
While participation in COVID-19 vaccination has been high in Iceland, the Chief Epidemiologist says the nation must continue to administer the jab and vaccinate as many people as possible. By the end of this week, all Icelanders 16 years of age and older will have been invited to receive their first dose and the vast majority should be fully vaccinated by mid-July. Authorities are also now administering vaccines to children aged 12-15 who have underlying illnesses. A decision has not been made on whether all children in this demographic will be offered vaccination against COVID-19.