Sweden recommends Covid-19 vaccination for over-16s

The Swedish Public Health Agency will recommend vaccinating those aged 16 and above against Covid-19, said the Director General Johan Carlson on Tuesday.

Sweden recommends Covid-19 vaccination for over-16s
An adolescent receives the vaccine against Covid-19. Photo: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The main reasons behind this decision were that a vaccination protects young people, lowers the risk of outbreaks, and will lower the infection rate overall, according to Carlson. 

The use of the Pfizer jab in children from the age of 12 was also approved, but only if there are special conditions such as belonging to a risk group. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine for this age group on May 28th. 

Carlson said that the vaccination of under-18s is a step in the general vaccination plan and to protect the children who might fall ill, and said the decision is not related to the opening of schools. 

There are currently no plans to vaccinate those younger than this, a departure from the plans of several other countries. As of June 7th, anyone over the age of 12 has been able to get vaccinated in Germany, while the US approved vaccination of those aged 12 and above in May. 

Both Denmark and Norway show similar hesitation to offering the vaccine to adolescents. In Denmark, it is offered to those aged 16 or above, and in Norway it remains 18, but 12 in case they belong to a risk group. 

The reason given by the Public Health Agency for only recommending the vaccine for over-16s in Sweden decision is that the advantage of vaccinating children is not deemed great enough since they do not typically fall severely ill from Covid-19 and the data available to the agency does not show that they play a large role in infecting others. 

Over the course of the pandemic so far in Sweden, about 150 people aged 16 or 17 have required hospital care due to Covid-19.

People who fall into the eligible age group or have children who do will need to keep updated on where their region is up to in the vaccine rollout, since the programme is being managed at the regional level and it depends on availability of vaccines. 

According to the Public Health Agency, vaccination of 16-18-year olds will begin once the vaccine has been offered to all eligible adults over the age of 18, which is expected to be “sometime in August”.

If the child is part of a Covid-19 risk group, the vaccine might be available sooner than for others in that age group; the best way to find out what applies is by contacting your primary care doctor. 

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Sweden to announce decision on potential Covid-19 travel restrictions

In a press conference later today, Sweden's health minister Jakob Forssmed and department head of the Public Health Agency, Sara Byfors, are expected to make an announcement on whether Sweden will introduce restrictions for travellers arriving from China.

Sweden to announce decision on potential Covid-19 travel restrictions

Yesterday, the EU’s crisis response mechanism (IPCR) recommended that member states start testing travellers arriving from China for Covid-19.

This recommendation is advisory and not legally binding, leaving it up to member states to decide whether to introduce tests or a testing requirement.

Earlier this week, Sara Byfors said that it is pointless if Sweden is the only country to introduce a negative test requirement.

Byfors and Forssmed are expected to announce whether Sweden will introduce a test requirement for travellers arriving from China in a press conference today at 9:30, which The Local will be covering.

Here’s our article from earlier this week going over what we know so far about the possible negative test requirement, and who it could affect.

China has lessened many of its Covid-19 restrictions in recent weeks. Next week, it will start producing passports for its citizens again, and the requirement to quarantine upon return to China will be removed.

However, there is still a high level of Covid-19 infection in the country, which has led multiple countries to introduce restrictions on travellers from China or plan to do so.

On Tuesday, China threatened to “take countermeasures”.

“This lacks a scientific basis and some methods are completely unacceptable,” said Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry.