Fourth Vaccination To Be Offered In Laugardalshöll

bólusetning mass vaccination Laugardalshöll

The latest vaccination campaign will begin in Laugardalshöll today, September 27, offering the fourth COVID-19 booster shot and influenza vaccines to individuals 60 and over.

Health care professionals state that some 30,000 in the capital are eligible for this newest round, and expect up to 4,000 per day. Similar services are also being provided outside of the capital region.

The current round of vaccinations will run until October 7, every weekday between 11am and 3pm.

Read more: 80+ Offered Fourth Dose

In April of this year, individuals 80 and over were offered their fourth shot. With much of this demographic covered, it is hoped to increase protection for other vulnerable segments of the population.

Ragnheiður Ósk Erlendsdóttir, director of nursing in the Capital Region Healthcare System, stated to Vísir that this round of vaccinations will have a slightly different format than before, with both the booster vaccine and also influenza vaccine offered.

“People can come here and kill two birds with one stone, get both or one of them depending on what suits them,” she said. “We are going to have three booths, one will only be influenza and one will only be COVID-19, and then there will be one booth that will be both.”

According to the latest statistics from covid.is, 78% of the population is considered fully vaccinated, and 27,644 individuals have received their fourth dose of the vaccine.

What’s the status of COVID-19 vaccination in Iceland?

bólusetning mass vaccination Laugardalshöll

Iceland received the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine on December 28, 2020 and vaccination began the following day. As of April 2022, 79% of Iceland’s total population has been fully vaccinated, or 82% of the eligible population. Iceland began administering booster shots in late 2021 and offering vaccination for 5- to 11-year-olds in January 2022.

 

COVID-19 vaccination is optional and free of charge in Iceland. Vaccines were initially administered according to priority groups defined by health authorities, but the priority groups were abolished in June 2021 once all residents aged 16 and over had been offered vaccination.

All foreign residents in Iceland have access to vaccination regardless of residency status or whether or not they have a local ID number (kennitala). 

Icelandic data shows that vaccinated individuals are less likely to contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus and that vaccines are very effective at staving off serious illness and hospitalisation due to COVID-19. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has stated that booster shots could help Iceland reach herd immunity. Local data shows that a third dose may increase protection against COVID-19 infection, transmission, and serious illness by 90%, as compared to just two doses.

Vaccines Through European Union 

Iceland and other EFTA countries are guaranteed the same access to vaccines as member states of the European Union. The European Commission has signed contracts with six vaccine manufacturers, including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna. The Commission negotiates the number of doses it receives from each manufacturer and they are divided among countries proportionally. Each individual country also makes contracts with vaccine manufacturers and EFTA member states such as Iceland do so through Sweden.

Below is the latest information on the status of all COVID-19 vaccines expected in Iceland.

This article will be regularly updated.

 

Our Latest news articles on COVID-19

COVID-19 in Iceland: 80+ Offered Fourth Dose

bólusetning mass vaccination Laugardalshöll

Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has decided to offer a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to those 80 years of age and older, as well as all residents of nursing homes, Vísir reports. The decision is based on data from abroad that show COVID infection among older demographics can lead to serious illness even after three doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Þórólfur expects infection rates to remain low throughout the summer but points out that there is still uncertainty about how long immunity from vaccines and previous COVID-19 illness lasts.

“There is data emerging both from across the pond and from Europe that infections among these individuals that have received three doses can be very serious, much more serious and worse than among younger people that have received three doses,” Þórólfur stated. “There are recommendations from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency to offer these people a fourth dose and it’s on that basis that we are doing so.”

Chronically ill encouraged to receive fourth dose

Previously, the Chief Epidemiologist has only recommended fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccine to those who are chronically ill. Þórólfur says, however, that participation among the group has been lower than hoped when it comes to the fourth shot. The general population is still not being offered a fourth dose in Iceland. Currently, 81% of eligible residents in Iceland are fully vaccinated, and around 56% of the total population have received a third dose.

Unknown how long immunity lasts

Iceland is currently reporting 100-200 new COVID-19 cases per day, but authorities believe the true number to be higher. Seventeen are currently in hospital with COVID-19 infection. Þórólfur says he expects infection rates to remain low throughout the summer, but the coming autumn and winter are less certain, both because COVID-19 has shown itself to be seasonal and because we still do not know how long immunity provided by vaccines or by COVID-19 infection lasts.

“There are viruses that ramp up in the fall and winter time and I think it’s fairly likely we will have a good period this summer. Then it’s a question of what will happen in the fall. We just have to wait and see. I’m not predicting anything bad, necessarily, but we have to just monitor the situation closely.”

What’s the status of COVID-19 in Iceland?

Þórólfur Guðnason

The Icelandic government has lifted all domestic restrictions due to COVID-19 as of February 25, 2022. Despite high infection rates, local data shows that rates of serious illness and hospitalisation have remained low in the current wave.

Over 78% of Iceland’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or 91% of those 12 years of age and over. A campaign to administer booster shots is well on its way, with more than 54% of the nation already having had their third shot. Vaccination of children aged 5-11 began in January 2022.

Local data shows that vaccinated individuals are less likely to contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus and that vaccines are very effective at staving off serious illness and hospitalisation due to COVID-19. Read more about COVID-19 vaccination in Iceland here.

Read more about Iceland’s border restrictions here.

The following are the latest statistics regarding COVID-19 in Iceland.

Domestic restricions

Currently, there are no infection prevention measures due to COVID-19 in place. There are no limits on gatherings, bar and restaurant opening hours or mask requirements. Neither are people required to quarantine or isolate after coming into contact with COVID-19 infected individuals. People are still encouraged to practice personal infection prevention measures and to keep to themselves if they suspect they’ve been exposed to the disease or they test positive.

Travelling to Iceland

Currently, Iceland’s government has no disease prevention measures in place at the border. When travelling between Iceland and other countries, people still need to consider that airlines, airports and other countries might have different regulations in place.  

Can I Travel to Iceland in 2022 Post COVID-19?

Preventing and reporting infection

Hand washing, avoiding touching of eyes, nose, and mouth, and avoiding handshaking are key factors in reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection. Poor ventilation may also be a risk factor.

Visit the government’s official website for up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Iceland.

This article will be regularly updated.

Our Latest news articles on COVID-19

School May Not Be the Best Place to Vaccinate Children, Ombudsman for Children Says

Salvör Nordal, the Ombudsman for Children, has said that vaccinating children for Covid-19 during school hours is problematic. They should rather be vaccinated after school, at local health centres.

A COVID-19 vaccination rollout for children aged 5–11 was scheduled to start next Monday, in schools during regular school hours. However, the Minister for Education and Children’s Affairs has said that due to recent criticism, a final decision on the place of vaccination has not been made.

In an interview with mbl.is, Nordal claimed that many parents had reached out to her to address their worries regarding the current arrangement.

“We have witnessed a very harsh response from parents who believe vaccinations should not be carried out in schools. People have different views on whether children should be vaccinated or not, and be that as it may, but we sense a strong reaction among parents to the current arrangement. One possible reason is that parents feel they need more time to think the decision through. Others simply do not want their children to be vaccinated,” Nordal says.

She regards the decision to be vaccinated or not as sensitive personal data, which is inevitably exposed if vaccinations are carried out in the classroom. This can make children insecure and trigger uncomfortable conversations with their peers and teachers.

Skeptics demand a revocation of the marketing authorisation of Pfeizer’s vaccine for children

Yesterday, an organisation called Frelsi og ábyrgð (e. Freedom and responsibility) filed an administrative complaint against the Icelandic Medicines Agency, demanding that the marketing authorisation of Pfeizer’s vaccine for children should be revoked.

The complaint echoes the concerns of groups of people who believe that vaccinating children against COVID-19 does more harm than good. The organisation has recently published a series of full-page ads in Icelandic newspapers, where the usefulness of vaccinations of children is questioned.

The Icelandic Medicines Agency responded to the complaint yesterday, emphasising that vaccines are never authorised unless there is data from scientific research that confirms the safety of using the vaccine, Kjarninn reports . Moreover, this particular vaccine has been authorised in all member states of the EEA.

All Icelanders over the age of 11 have now been offered a COVID-19 jab. In other countries, such as the United States, younger children have been offered a vaccination. According to Þórólfur Guðnason, Chief Epidemiologist, data from the US suggests that around 70 percent of children infected with COVID-19 experience symptoms, with 0,6 percent of them requiring hospitalisation. Guðnason stressed in an announcement last month that these figures suggest that if all Icelandic children aged 5 – 11 would get infected with COVID-19, it would result in 134 hospitalisations and one death. Because of that, vaccination is a justifiable measure to prevent serious sickness in young children.

Woman Arrested for Disturbing the Peace at a Vaccination Site for Pregnant Women

More than 400 pregnant women attended a group vaccination at a site on Suðurlandsbraut in Reykjavík on Thursday when a small, but vigorous protest began, RÚV reports. One woman was arrested for creating a public disturbance.

The vaccinations began at 9:00 AM and continued until the afternoon. The women were organized into small groups according to their birth months, with those born in January and February first to be vaccinated.

The orderly scene was disrupted around 10:00 AM, however, when two women began an extremely vocal protest at the site. One of the women began screaming and became increasingly agitated. She said, among other things, that the vaccine was poison and called pandemic authorities murderers.

“There were two women here who had a different point of view than we do here,” said Margrét Héðinsdóttir, a nurse and vaccination project manager who tried to calm the woman down before police arrived. “She was concerned about the vaccines. But this isn’t the place to protest the decisions of the pandemic authorities. So we had to call the police to help us deal with the issue.”

Police stayed on site until later in the day.

COVID-19 in Iceland: Randomised Vaccination Likely Begins This Week

Icelandic healthcare system

Icelandic health authorities expect to administer 14,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the Reykjavík capital area this week, aiming to complete vaccination of remaining priority groups and all residents born before 1975, RÚV reports. If there are leftover doses on scheduled vaccination days, authorities will begin to call in the general population using a randomised selection system. Ragnheiður Ósk Erlendsdóttir, director of nursing at capital area healthcare centres, stated that randomised vaccination among the remaining age groups would begin across the country in the coming days.

Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines will be administered in the capital area on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week respectively. While Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be administered to remaining priority group members such as those with underlying illnesses, the Janssen vaccine will be administered to school staff. A notice from capital area healthcare centres states that authorities will aim to complete vaccination of all those born 1975 or earlier this week if supplies allow. Individuals will be invited for vaccination via SMS. “There are no open vaccination days on the schedule in the near future,” the notice stated.

Vaccination Lottery for Remaining Population

Health authorities are now completing vaccination of priority groups, including the elderly and frontline workers. An Icelandic study presented in early May found that randomised COVID-19 vaccination in the remaining population would be a faster route to herd immunity than vaccination by descending age groups. In an interview last Friday, Ragnheiður stated that the names would literally be pulled out of a hat after being grouped by birth year and sex.  “We’re going to put all these individuals together on the basis of birth year, and then we’re going to pull them out of a hat, or a mug, with either women or men from the given year of birth being selected,” she stated.

Another 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be administered in Iceland next week. Over 46% of Iceland’s population has received one or both doses of vaccine while just under 25% has been fully vaccinated. Health authorities have stated that they are on track to vaccinate 75% of the population (280,000 people) with at least one dose by the end of June.

COVID-19 in Iceland: Randomise Vaccination to Achieve Herd Immunity Sooner

When Icelandic authorities finishing vaccination of priority groups, the general public will not be offered the jab by descending age groups, but will instead be randomly selected. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist confirmed this to mbl.is today. A recently published study from deCODE genetics found that this strategy would achieve herd immunity to COVID-19 sooner than vaccinating the population from oldest to youngest.

So far 29.89% of Iceland’s population have received one or both shots of COVID-19 vaccine. While vaccination efforts got off to a slow start on December 29, they have accelerated in pace with vaccine rollout. Icelandic authorities have stated they are on target to reach their goal of vaccinating 75% of the population (with at least one dose) by the end of July.

Priority Group Seven Out of Ten Now Being Vaccinated

In Iceland, COVID-19 vaccines have been administered according to priority groups defined by the Chief Epidemiologist. The first groups were front line healthcare workers and nursing home residents, followed by the oldest demographics. Currently, inoculations are being offered to the seventh priority group: individuals of all ages with chronic illnesses. The remaining three groups are school and welfare service staff; individuals vulnerable due to social or economic factors (such as homelessness); and the general population. These groups will not be invited to inoculation in descending age groups, but randomly.

“It will be somewhat random in relation to age,” Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated. “It will also be like that when for example teachers and people in social services are called in; it won’t be divided by age groups, it won’t go down from the oldest demographic, rather it will be somewhat random. We will try to hit two birds with one stone, that is to say to reach prioritised individuals and at the same time work toward herd immunity as well as possible.”

Herd Immunity Reached Sooner By Vaccinating Young People First

A study conducted by deCODE and presented to Icelandic authorities on April 29 concluded that herd immunity would be reached fastest in Iceland if the age groups who have yet to receive vaccination would be invited from youngest to oldest, in the opposite order from what Iceland, and most other countries, have been doing.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir COVID-19 mask
deCODE genetics. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and other government ministers at the presentation of a deCODE study on vaccination against COVID-19, April 29, 2021.

Vaccinating younger people would limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus more than vaccinating older groups. “In order to limit the epidemic to 100 people (assuming strict gathering regulations remained in place) we would have to vaccinate 75% of adults,” stated Páll Melsted, one of the scientists behind the study. “But if we start by vaccinating teenagers then we get to that point after vaccinating 55%. If we are going to get to that point sooner, we should start with those who are younger. We also achieve a similar goal if we do it completely randomly. Well, maybe it would be better politically to vaccinate both downwards and randomly, but I don’t intent to promote that.”

DeCODE CEO Kári Stefánsson warned against lifting restrictions quickly before herd immunity was achieved. “I think we should stick to the restrictions and be more Catholic than the Pope for a few more weeks and then we’ll come out of this well,” he stated.

Icelandic Authorities Delay Use of Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine

The first 2,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) have arrived in Iceland. Authorities have however decided to delay its use until more information is available about its possible side effects. U.S. federal health agencies recommended pausing the use of the vaccine earlier this week after six recipients developed a rare disorder involving blood clots. Janssen is delaying the rollout of the vaccine to Europe.

Authorities Wait for More Information

Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason told Vísir the potential side effects reported from the Janssen vaccine are similar to those reported with the AstraZeneca vaccine. “We will wait to use the vaccine until we have better information,” Þórólfur stated. “We will wait with the vaccine and see if we can use it for certain groups that we believe are not at risk from the vaccine as we are doing with AstraZeneca.”

The COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca and Janssen are based on viral vector technology, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While the European Medicines Agency determined a causal link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare instances of blood clots, it nevertheless ruled the benefits of the vaccine to outweigh the risks and recommended its continued use.

Could Delay Vaccination Efforts

Iceland expects to receive a second shipment of the Janssen vaccine later this month, making for a total of 4,800 doses in April. The vaccine is administered in a single dose, meaning the April shipments are enough to fully vaccinate 4,800 people. If health authorities recommend against the use of the vaccine, Þórólfur stated it would delay Iceland’s vaccination efforts, which aim to inoculate 75% of the population by the end of July.

Read More: What’s the status of COVID-19 vaccination in Iceland?

“I hope there won’t be any delay even if we stop using it for a few weeks. However, if the final result is that it is too risky to use the vaccine, it will affect the big picture,” Þórólfur stated. Iceland has ordered 230,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine, one of six vaccines the country will acquire through European collaboration. So far 61,134 have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Iceland, 16.58% of the population.

Chief Epidemiologist Turns Down Priority Vaccination Spot

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason

Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason turned down his first invitation to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a healthcare professional and will wait until he is invited based on his age group. “I’m not working with patients, so I’ll wait,” Þórólfur told Vísir reporters. Þórólfur has encouraged other licenced healthcare professionals in his situation to do the same.

Icelandic health authorities began vaccinating against COVID-19 on December 29, 2020, according to defined priority groups. The first to get vaccinated were nursing home residents and frontline healthcare workers. Now vaccination has been offered to the fifth priority group: healthcare professionals working outside of healthcare institutions. The Chief Epidemiologist was offered vaccination on that basis.

Þórólfur turned down the offer as he is not working directly with patients and has encouraged others in his position to do the same and wait until they are offered the jab based on their age group. It will likely be a short wait for Þórólfur: vaccination of locals born in 1951 began this week, and the Chief Epidemiologist was born in 1953.

Everyone on Permit Register Received Invitation

While frontline healthcare workers have already been offered vaccination in Iceland, now the jab is being offered to priority group number five, defined as “other healthcare staff that have direct contact with patients and require COVID-19 vaccination according to further definitions by the Chief Epidemiologist.” The group includes 33 diverse healthcare professions ranging from nurses and midwives to optometrists, dentists, and speech pathologists.

Read More: What’s the status of COVID-19 vaccination in Iceland?

There are around 20,000 locals with valid licences in one of these professions, and it was not possible for authorities to contact everyone on the permit register to confirm they are currently working in a clinical setting. Therefore, all those with valid licences received an invitation to get vaccinated, but the Chief Epidemiologist’s Office sent out a notice urging those who are working in other jobs to turn down the invitation.

Chronically Ill and Under 70 Next in Line

The next priority groups are those with chronic illnesses under 70 years of age. Some individuals from these groups will be vaccinated this week.  So far 28,056 people have been fully vaccinated in Iceland, or 7.6% of the population. Authorities have stated they are on track to vaccinate 280,000 people (75% of the population) by mid-July.