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Denmark officials see no reason to give more COVID vaccines

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK (AP) – Health authorities in Denmark said yesterday that they were considering “winding down” the country’s coronavirus vaccination programme in the spring and see no reason now to administer a booster dose to children or a fourth shot to anymore residents at risk of severe COVID-19.

The Danish Health Authority said in a statement outlining its reasoning that the third infection wave in the European nation was waning “due to the large population immunity”.

“The very high vaccine coverage in Denmark, especially with the third shot, means that we can cope with increasing infection without getting serious illness,” the government agency said in a statement.

Last month, the Danish government said it was offering a fourth vaccine dose to older adults and other vulnerable citizens because the pandemic situation had worsened amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

But a Health Authority assessment concluded that three shots had provided good protection to nursing home residents and people over age 85, and the agency decided it was unnecessary to provide them with additional shots right now.

Customers at the fish market in Torvehallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. PHOTO: AP

Bolette Søborg, a unit manager and chief physician with the authority, said the approaching end of winter, when time spent indoors makes it easier for the virus to spread, is another reason to hold off on fourth doses.

Only a handful of countries have started offering fourth shots or announced plans to do so.

Denmark expanded its vaccination programme to children aged five to 11 in November, when the Delta variant was dominant and there was a fear youngsters could infect older generations.

Health authorities said yesterday that they were “now starting to plan to round off the current vaccination programme for all target groups, including the programme for children aged five to 11”. More than 80 per cent of the population has received two shots while 61.3 per cent have had a booster, according to official figures.

The agency said it was looking at “winding down the entire general vaccination programme later in the spring”.

“We will of course follow the epidemic closely, and we are ready to change our decision if, contrary to expectations, there is a fourth spring wave or new worrying variants this spring,” the agency statement said.

Denmark scrapped most pandemic restrictions this month after officials said they no longer considered COVID-19 “a socially critical disease”.