More than half Sweden’s adult population is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19

Sweden passed a milestone in the fight against Covid-19 on Thursday with more than half of all adults in the country having received both doses of a vaccine against the virus.

More than half Sweden's adult population is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19
Vials of the vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, all of which are highly effective at preventing serious illness from Covid-19. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

As of July 29th, a total of 4,118,142 people have now received both doses (all vaccines being used in Sweden require two) while 6,365,362 have received at least one. That’s 50.3 percent and 77.7 percent of Sweden’s adult population respectively.

In early July, all of Sweden’s 21 healthcare regions, which were responsible for the vaccine rollout, had opened booking to all adults. The doses are usually given with around a six-week interval but the exact interval varies regionally; Stockholm, for example, reduced the minimum time between doses to four weeks this week.

Although the figures of vaccination rates are calculated as a proportion of the adult population, some regions have already opened booking to children aged between 16 and 18, and all regions will offer vaccines to this age group in the coming months. The use of the Pfizer jab has also been approved for children from the age of 12, but only if there are special conditions such as belonging to a risk group.

As a proportion of the total population, around 40 percent have been fully vaccinated and around 61 percent have received at least one dose. That puts Sweden below the EU average, as the chart from Our World in Data below illustrates.

This can at least partly be explained by countries’ different vaccine strategies, with some focusing on rolling out first doses to as many people as possible and others aiming for a high rate of full vaccination. Measuring by the proportion of the population to have received at least one dose, Sweden is instead above the EU average.

Sweden currently expects all adults will have been offered their first dose by September 19th at the latest, after delaying the target multiple times due to smaller deliveries than expected.

Vaccination against Covid-19 is free for everyone living in Sweden, including those residing temporarily such as students or others without a personnummer, and it is voluntary.

The numbers are based on what regions report to the National Vaccine Register, which should cover every vaccine administered in Sweden although there may be slight delays depending on the regions’ reporting systems. Vaccines given to people without a personnummer are still reported to this register and included in the national statistics, but a mismatch between Sweden’s population databases means that for this group, vaccination data cannot be connected to personal data, so it is not currently possible to get a digital vaccine certificate (used for travel between EU countries). Sweden’s eHealth Agency has told The Local they are aware of the issue and hope to solve it, but are unlikely to do so earlier than September.

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Sweden opens up fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine for over-80s

Sweden's Public Health Agency is now recommending a fourth vaccine dose for care home residents, recipients of at-home care, and over 80s, to be given at least four months after dose three.

Sweden opens up fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine for over-80s

Despite recently removing almost all Covid-19-related restrictions, the pandemic is still ongoing in Sweden, with the Public Health Agency describing the spread of infection in a press release as “intensive”.

There has also been an increase in the number of cases in groups of the population with an increased risk for serious illness, such as care home residents. 

In addition to this, the immune system’s ability to react to vaccinations and build up long-term protection against the virus becomes less effective with age.

In response to this, the Public Health Agency is now recommending that Swedish regions offer a second booster dose – representing a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine – to the following at-risk groups:

  • care home residents
  • recipients of at-home care
  • over 80s

Regions will be able to offer the dose four months after the first booster dose (dose three), at the earliest, starting from next week.

“A booster dose strengthens protection against the virus,” said state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell in a statement. “Therefore, we believe that people aged 80 and over will benefit from a second booster dose.”

First booster doses are available for over-18s in all Swedish regions. If you have not had yours yet and want to know how to book in your region, see The Local’s guide HERE.