Cervical Cancer Screening Results Now Available Within One Month, Instead of Seven

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Patients awaiting the results of their cervical cancer screenings now only have to wait an average of 29 days for a response following their examination, RÚV reports. As of January, wait time for cervical cancer screening results was an average of 220 days, or just over seven months.

Wait times may still be longer for some patients, but Heilsugæslan höfuðborgarsvæði, the primary care clinics in the capital area, says that 99% of patients receive their results within 40 days. The shortest wait time in September was 13 days.

The administration of cervical cancer screenings in Iceland has been beset with problems over the last year. In December 2020, it was decided that samples would temporarily be sent abroad for diagnosis after a misdiagnosis led to incurable cervical cancer.

Increased Demand for Vaccinations but No Plans to Recall Vaccination Staff from Summer Holidays

Demand for vaccinations at Heilsugæslan health clinics in the capital area has increased considerably in recent days, RÚV reports, unsurprisingly prompted by the recent spate of positive COVID-19 infections.

Two hundred people received vaccination shots at the health clinic on Suðurlandsbraut on Wednesday. “We didn’t anticipate this with all the COVID testing we’re doing, too, so we’ll have to limit ourselves to 100 a day,” said Sigríður Dóra Magnúsdóttir, Medical Director of capital-area Heilsugæslan clinics.

Around 50,000 Icelanders have received the one-shot Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine and pandemic authorities will probably call for second shots of one of the other available vaccines, most likely Pfizer, to be administered to these individuals in order to bolster their resistance to COVID-19. Sigríður Dóra says that people who received the Janssen shot will probably not be given a booster until mid-August, but health clinics will wait for further guidance from chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason before making any final decisions.

Vaccination staff went on summer vacation on July 7 and are not scheduled to return until mid-August. Sigríður Dóra says that despite the current increase in infections, she doesn’t believe that there is cause to call these employees back from their holidays. It will take around three days to vaccinate the 30,000 capital-area residents, young people, teachers, fishermen, and ship and flight crew personnel who received the Janssen shot.

Health Clinic for Women Coming to Capital Area

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The Capital Area Health Service will open a special health clinic for women as a pilot project within the healthcare system. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir decided to launch the project in consultation with the Capital Area Health Service. There are indications that women’s healthcare needs are not being met. The Health Service has received ISK 60 million ($485,000/€408,000) in funding for the project and it is hoped the project will gather knowledge that can be applied across Iceland.

Healthcare issues that are particularly relevant to women include menopause, contraception, domestic violence and its consequences, and various illnesses that affect women in particular. A clinic dedicated to women has been suggested as a way to address these issues more directly and improve healthcare for women overall.

The pilot project entails opening one women’s clinic in the capital area that will be staffed full-time by health professionals who have specialised experience and knowledge, e.g. doctors, nurses, or midwives. Emphasis will be placed on staff being able to diagnose and address issues, as well as having accurate and evidence-based information available to healthcare professionals, women, and the general public.

An opening date for the clinic has yet to be confirmed but preparations are now underway.

Chicken Pox Vaccine Available

The Varilix vaccine, used to guard against varicella – the virus commonly known as chicken pox – is now available in the capital area for the first time in six months, RÚV reports.

The chicken pox are very contagious, but while the rash they cause may be itchy and uncomfortable for the patient, it does not generally have serious, long-term consequences. It can, however, pose more serious risks for infants under 12 months of age, adolescents, seniors, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.

Sigríður Dóra Magnúsdóttir, the managing director of Iceland’s health service, confirmed for RÚV that there had been a shortage of the vaccine, but that parents can now bring their children to be vaccinated when they bring them in for check-ups. She underscored that there is no pressing need for parents to rush to get their children vaccinated against the chicken pox at this time.

“There’s not a chicken pox epidemic going on. The best thing will be for people just to go to their local health centres and talk with a nurse when they come in for a check-up,” she said.

Health Clinics Around Reykjavík Open for Vaccination Walk-Ins

Health clinics around the capital area have received 6,500 doses of measles vaccination, allowing an ongoing vaccination initiation to resume around Reykjavík, Vísir reports. Public health officials have been urging residents to get vaccinated if they are not already, following a handful of confirmed measles cases in Iceland this spring. Three thousand doses of the vaccine were distributed in Reykjavík and East Iceland last weekend, all of which were used.

Health clinics will be open for measles vaccination walk-ins every weekday between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. People who prefer not to have to wait can also make an appointment in advance. Adults will pay a small facility fee, but will not have to pay for the vaccination itself.

The vaccination initiative is focused on two target groups:

Children 6 – 18 months old

Adults born in 1970 or later who have not received the measles vaccination, or are not sure that they did

Adults who have already been vaccinated do not have to be vaccinated again. Health Clinics are not able to look up prior vaccination records, so residents are encouraged to try and locate the blue vaccination cards that they would have received at the time of vaccination.