What we know about Norway’s priorities for the corona vaccination process

Vaccine vaccinationPhoto: Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP - File
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As viable vaccines against COVID-19 show promising results and are ready for distribution, Norway is finalizing its vaccination plan.

It has been nearly a year since the coronavirus crisis hit Norway.

As 2021 looms, the country shares a hopeful expectation – alongside the rest of the world – that Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, amongst others, will put an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK has already started with mass vaccination, and now Norway and other countries prepare to finalize their priorities for the upcoming vaccination process.

The importance of the next couple of weeks

On December 7, Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that officials are currently waiting for four vaccines to be approved by the EU.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which has already undergone emergency approval in the UK and the US, is among them.

Sigurd Hortemo – the chief physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency – believes that the next couple of weeks will be vital in the process of assessing the vaccine’s effectiveness and risk-factor.

Before the official use of the vaccine is approved, it is of utmost importance to assure that there are no great risks and the vaccine can be distributed safely to all members of the population.

When can Norway expect to start vaccination?

On December 15, NRK reported that the first corona vaccine could be approved for use in the EU and Norway one week earlier than planned.

Thus, the first vaccinations in Norway could occur during the Christmas holidays.

It was earlier reported that Norway could expect to start implementing the vaccination process shortly after the New Year.

Richard Bergström, the vaccination coordinator between Norway, Sweden, and the EU states, believes that Norway will be able to nearly fully vaccinate all at-risk members of the population before Easter.

Talking to NRK, he promised that Norway would have up to 2.5 million doses in the first quarter of 2021, just enough to vaccinate 1.25 million people, as the vaccine requires two doses with a span of three weeks in-between each dose.

Who gets the vaccine first?

To date, according to helsenorge.no, Norway plans to prioritize at-risk members of the population first, namely the elderly or those that have underlying medical conditions.

Within the at-risk populace, it’s expected that Norway will give priority to those who are in nursing/care homes, followed by those who are aged 85 or older, aged 64 and older, and lastly persons aged 18-64 who have underlying, serious medical conditions.

Afterward, health personnel can expect to be next in line for vaccinations.

Debates over prioritization

There have recently been several discussions in Norway on whether to change this prioritization in case of a spike in infection cases.

Such changes could involve health personnel being the first in line for vaccinations, in order to be able to treat a heavy-influx of future patients.

However, changes would also depend on a number of factors surrounding the pandemic and the vaccine itself.

There has also been some debate on whether areas of Norway that have higher rates of infection will be prioritized.

As an example, priority could be given to the capital of Norway, Oslo, which has registered the highest rates of infection throughout the pandemic.

Nearly within reach

As the holidays draw nearer and as the New Year approaches, Norway is nearly within reach of being prepared to tackle the pandemic through vaccination.

Despite some uncertainty behind prioritization, Norway is likely to have a clear system for vaccination prioritization very soon – as the vaccination equipment has already been sent out to all the municipalities in the country.

According to the Norwegian Directorate of Health, all the municipalities will receive enough equipment to start vaccination before the New Year, as soon as the first vaccines arrive.

Source: Norway Today

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