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Finland begins coronavirus vaccinations

Front-line ICU healthcare workers in Helsinki became Finland’s first recipients of the coronavirus vaccine.

Staff of Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) district were the first to receive the coronavirus vaccination in Finland. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Finland began vaccinating residents against coronavirus on Sunday afternoon as three front-line ICU healthcare workers with the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) district became the first to receive the inoculation.

"The injection didn't really feel like anything at all. It's just normal," Deputy Charge Nurse Kirsi Mustalammi, who was among the first to receive the jab, told the media.

Mustalammi added that she hopes the vaccine will lead to a return to normal life.

"There is no other solution at the moment," she said.

HUS's Chief Administrative Officer Teppo Heikkilä said that the first vaccinations had gone well and that more members of the hospital district’s staff would receive their injections on Sunday.

"This is definitely the beginning of ending this," Heikkilä said. "It gives us some kind of light at the end of the tunnel."

Vaccinations begin in other regions from Monday

HUS's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Eeva Ruotsalainen told Yle that each of the recipients were monitored for 15 minutes after receiving the injection to ensure that there were no side-effects or allergic reactions.

"All vaccinations will include a follow-up. This is a safety issue, and we want to make it safe for all vaccinations," Ruotsalainen said.

Finland received the first batch of coronavirus vaccines, totalling about 9,750 doses, on Saturday.

This has been divided into five parts and sent to university hospitals located in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Oulu and Kuopio. Vaccinations in these regions are set to begin on Monday.

In total, the first batch can be used to vaccinate 4,875 people, as each recipient of the vaccine should be given a booster dose within three weeks of the first injection.

Health agency THL has kept delivery details under wraps to safeguard the vaccines from theft, but they did disclose that the vaccines arrived with other freight and will be evenly distributed across the country.