Quarantine Regulations Eased for Vaxxed and Boosted Individuals

Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson

Quarantine regulations will be eased for individuals who have both been fully vaccinated and received a booster, as well as for fully vaccinated people who have recovered from a previously confirmed COVID infection. The changes were announced by Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson on Friday on the government’s website.

Willum Þór made the decision to loosen regulations on the recommendation of Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, who cited research from the UK and Denmark that indicates that fully vaccinated and boosted individuals are much less likely to become infected with COVID, particularly the delta strain. The research shows that boosted individuals are also less susceptible to omicron infection, although vaccination has been shown to be less effective against omicron than delta.

The new quarantine regulations for boosted and fully vaccinated/previously infected individuals will go into effect immediately.

It is hoped that the easing of quarantine regulations will make a significant impact in boosting the economy and making day-to-day life easier in Iceland, where around 160,000 people—roughly 43% of the population—has received a COVID 19 booster.

“We need to keep society going as much as possible,” said Willum Þór, “whether we’re looking at schools, welfare services, or various economic activities. As it stands now, this response is absolutely necessary.”

Per the announcement on the government’s website, qualifying individuals who are otherwise subject to quarantine are now:

  • permitted to go to work and/or seek out necessary services, such as health services, as well as go to grocery stores and pharmacies, and use public transportation
  • not permitted to attend gatherings or locations where there are 20 or more people present except in the specific instances mentioned above
  • required to wear a mask when in the company of anyone except their closest contacts (i.e. family or people they live with); masks are required even when a distance of two metres is observed
  • not permitted to visit healthcare institutions such as nursing homes without special permission from the institution in question
  • required to avoid contact with persons who have a high risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19

Qualifying individuals are expected to observe quarantine under the above protocols for five days; their quarantine ends on Day 5, provided that they receive a negative result on a PCR test. Individuals who notice symptoms of COVID during their five-day quarantine are urged to get a PCR test without delay. Quarantine remains a minimum of five days.

Infection Rate of Unvaccinated 13 Times Higher

vaccination Laugardalshöll

Unvaccinated people in Iceland are 13 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot, RÚV reports. Half of all hospitalisations in Iceland’s current wave of infection have been unvaccinated people, who represent less than 24% of the population and less than 10% of those eligible for vaccination.

Over 90% of eligible Icelanders, or those 12 years of age and over, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Over 110,000 people have also received a booster shot, or nearly a third of the total population of 370,000. Vaccination rates vary somewhat between age demographics. Nearly 100% of those 70 and older are fully vaccinated in Iceland (most with booster shots as well). The figure drops to just over 90% for those 50-59 years of age, to around 85% for those 40-49, and to roughly 75% for those 16-39. Nearly 70% of children 12-15 years old in Iceland have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Official data from Iceland shows the difference in 14-day incidence rates by age group and vaccination status. These figures show a consistently higher rate of infection among children and adults that are not fully vaccinated as compared to those who are. The current incidence rate for adults who are not fully vaccinated is 780.4, as compared to 465.8 for fully vaccinated adults. The current incidence rate of those who have received a booster shot is just 59.8. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist has stated that widespread booster shots could help Iceland reach herd immunity.

Iceland’s new Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson received his booster shot yesterday. “I just do what the scientists have told us and encouraged us to do. That helps the fight,” he stated on the occasion. “But we have to respect the point of view of those who, for all sorts of reasons, are afraid of it or will not get vaccinated.”

A New Campaign of Booster Shots Launched Today at Laugardalshöll

Icelandic healthcare system

A new campaign of COVID-19 booster shots began this morning at the Laugardalshöll stadium. Everyone eligible will receive an invitation to accept an additional shot of the vaccine. The unvaccinated are encouraged to attend a so-called “open house” on Thursdays and Fridays.

A sharp rise in infections

In the wake of a sharp increase in infections – and following tighter social restrictions announced Thursday – a new campaign of COVID-19 booster shots began this morning for residents of the capital area at Laugardalshöll (individuals who had received the Janssen vaccine were offered booster shots in August).

The campaign’s first phase will last for approximately four weeks, that is, starting today and lasting ca. until December 8. As noted in Iceland Review last week, the health authorities expect to administer up to 10,000 booster shots per day and hope to offer all those who have been fully vaccinated a booster shot by March.

Those eligible will receive an invitation

The mRNA Pfizer vaccine will be administered at Laugardalshöll between 10 am and 3 pm today, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Everyone eligible to receive booster shots will receive an invitation; however, those who received a second dose of the initial vaccine six months ago may also show up to Laugardalshöll to receive a booster. Those who were jabbed during the first round of vaccinations this spring, individuals sixty years or older, or those suffering from underlying conditions will be given priority. (No vaccines will be adminstered on Suðurlandsbraut 34 on those days that shots are given in Laugardalshöll.)

According to the Capital Area Healthcare Centres’ website, six months must have elapsed between the second dose of the initial vaccine and a COVID-19 booster shot. Likewise, 14 days must have elapsed between influenza shots and booster shots. Those who have completed their initial round of vaccinations and have been infected with COVID-19 are to wait further instruction.

An open house for the unvaccinated on Thursday and Friday

Those who have yet to receive a COVID vaccination, or those who have yet to receive the second dose of the initial vaccine – or those who require a different type of vaccine – may show up at Laugardalshöll between 10 am and 3 pm on Thursdays and Fridays. The Pfizer mRNA vaccine will administered on both days. The AstraZeneca and Moderna will be offered on Thursdays and the Janssen vaccine on Fridays.