Finland gets first consignment of AstraZeneca Covid jab

The AstraZeneca vaccine was approved in January.

Hoitaja annosteli Astra Zenecan rokotteita rokotuskeskuksessa Skotlannissa viime maanantaina. Image: Jane Barlow / AFP

Finland received some 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine on Sunday, sparking the start of the inoculation's rollout in the country.

Vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are already in use in Finland, and as of Sunday afternoon public health institute THL said just over 170,000 people had received at least one shot.

THL specialist Mia Kontio told Yle that around 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected in Finland this month.

That's just a third of the number Finland expected to receive, but Kontio is not overly concerned about the slower pace of deliveries.

"In the autumn it was thought that we might only get vaccines in the spring," said Kontio. "In that respect there's been a good supply. But as vaccines have arrived, of course we would like them to come quicker. There is, though, a readiness to vaccinate in hospital districts and municipalities. We hope to reach a stage where there are as many vaccine doses as we are able to use."

She said she was pleased that the pace of vaccination among older people has quickened thanks to a change in policy to avoid storing second doses of vaccines for those who receive their first dose.

That is against the recommendations of the manufacturer of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the European Medicines Agency, but consistent with the policy followed in the United Kingdom.

The goal of changing tack now is to get the first dose of vaccine to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

"Now we're at a good stage, where we give just one dose," said Kontio. "We are able to give older people vaccines quicker, and the first dose already gives good protection. We are able to vaccinate more older people than previously seemed possible."

Helsingin Sanomat was the first to report on this shipment of vaccines.