Vaccine roll-out plans: “Next year we can get to a more normal situation”

Officials say the first inoculations could be given within just a couple of days of receiving regulatory approval.

File picture of Minister for Family and Basic Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) and Helsinki press conference, 14th October 2020 / Credit: VNK

Finland is likely to receive an initial batch of 3.6 million doses of a new Covid-19 vaccine, enough to inoculate 1.8 million people say officials.

Minister of Family and Basic Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) joined public health experts on Thursday to outline more details of the country’s vaccine strategy, confirming that everyone in Finland will be given the opportunity to get a vaccine which will be available within days of getting EU regulatory approval.

“The start of vaccination may be in early January” Kiuru told reporters, and said healthcare workers will be in the first round of inoculations. The elderly and other people in at-risk groups perhaps due to underlying medical conditions, will be in the second round of vaccinations likely in February.

Finland has placed orders through an EU scheme for several different vaccinations which are currently in the final stages of approval. Britain has already authorised the first vaccine, while Germany may approve one by the middle of December.

“The goal is that before the turn of the year, we will have a positive outcome of the European Medicines Agency’s expert training, which will be confirmed by the European Commission, and from the beginning of the year we will be able to vaccinate social and healthcare staff” says THL’s Chief Physician Taneli Puumalainen.

Coronavirus health warnings sent by SMS

Meanwhile public health officials are warning that the pandemic is worsening in Finland, with another 540 confirmed cases on Thursday.

Authorities have started sending out SMS text messages alerting people to the increasing cases of coronavirus.

It’s part of a communications strategy to reach as many people as possible with accurate information in partnership with telephone service providers and the Emergency Response Centre, and was used twice earlier this year to send Covid-19-related messaging.

The latest texts, sent in Finnish, Swedish, English and Northern Sámi, began to arrive on Wednesday afternoon, telling people that “COVID-19 is worsening in Finland. Protect yourself & others. Please follow regional recommendations & restrictions” and gives a link to the THL website with more information.