Healthcare workers and nursing home residents will be prioritised access to a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available in Iceland. The Minister of Health has confirmed regulations defining ten priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination. Children born in 2006 or later will not be vaccinated unless they belong to risk groups.
The priority groups were defined in consideration of the World Health Organisation’s recommendations as well as perspectives that have emerged in neighbouring countries. Emphasis is placed on healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. The groups are prioritised in the following order:
- Healthcare workers and other employees that work in the emergency wards of the National University Hospital in Reykjavík and Akureyri Hospital in North Iceland.
- Healthcare workers and other employees of the National Hospital’s COVID-19 ward and inpatient ward as well as comparable wards at Akureyri Hospital; healthcare workers and other staff at health clinics as well as those who administer COVID-19 tests; and staff at nursing homes and retirement homes.
- Residents of nursing homes, retirement homes, and hospital geriatric wards.
- Licenced EMTs and paramedics that work in ambulance services; Coast Guard staff that work in the field; firefighters that work in the field; prison wardens; and police officers that work in the field.
- Other healthcare staff that have direct contact with patients “and require COVID-19 vaccination according to further decisions by the Chief Epidemiologist.”
- Individuals 60 years of age or older. Those who belong to this group and are also inpatients at healthcare institutions will be given priority.
- Individuals with underlying chronic illnesses that belong to particular high-risk groups for COVID-19 as further determined by the Chief Epidemiologist.
- Staff of preschools, primary schools, and junior colleges. Community and welfare service staff that have direct contact with users, including those that provide in-home services.
- Individuals that are vulnerable due to social or economic factors and are at particular risk.
- All others who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 according to further decisions by the Chief Epidemiologist.
The first five groups on this list number around 20,000 individuals, according to RÚV.
Several Vaccines and Access for Everyone
Vaccination will be free of charge. The Chief Epidemiologist is responsible for further prioritisation within each group and can also make exceptions to the regulations outlined above, but must provide reasoning to the Health Minister.
The Chief Epidemiologist is also responsible for determining which groups receive which vaccine. It is likely that locals in Iceland will be vaccinated using several different vaccines. The Icelandic government has made a deal with AstraZeneca to purchase the COVID-19 vaccine the company is developing, and will have access to other COVID-19 vaccines currently in development through the European Union. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has stated that Icelandic authorities also have the option to negotiate with vaccine developer Pfizer. In a briefing in Reykjavík last Thursday, Þórólfur stated Iceland should have access to enough vaccines for everyone. He added that there was as of yet no definite information on when a vaccine would be available in Iceland.