THL: Pace of Covid vaccination slows, hospitalisations up

THL and Health Ministry officials said Thursday the Åland Islands is the first Finnish region to hit the 80 percent vaccination coverage target.

Vials of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Image: Jorge Gonzalez / Yle

According to figures released at Thursday's briefing by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the pace of coronavirus vaccination has slowed down significantly.

As of Thursday, 77.4 percent of people over the age of 18 in Finland had received a full series of two vaccinations. 74 percent of those over 12 years of age have received a full series.

However, the rate of vaccination uptake has slowed considerably, according to THL vaccine specialist Mia Kontio.

Nationwide, about 238,000 people still need to receive a second dose to bring vaccination coverage up to a targeted level of 80 percent of the population over 12 years of age.

Meanwhile, there are about 756,000 completely unvaccinated people in that age group.

Vaccination coverage varies greatly from region to region. The lowest level of vaccination coverage is at 69 percent and the highest now just over 80 percent.

The Åland Islands was the first Finnish region to hit the 80 percent vaccination coverage target.

Hospitalisations up

The number of patients hospitalised has been increasing in Finland recently with the number of those in intensive care varying between 27-32 over the past week.

"The risk of being hospitalised [for coronvirus infection] is 15-20 time greater for the unvaccinated than it is for those who have been vaccinated," said THL Director of Health Security Mika Salminen.

The load on hospitals is at the same level as in March this year. According to these experts, it is difficult to predict the need for hospital care capacity in the short term.

Information on third doses next week

A group of national vaccine experts met on Wednesday to discuss the administration of a third dose of coronavirus vaccines to the general public. Work is still ongoing and no recommendations have yet been made.

THL says that more information is likely to be announced on Tuesday next week.

Mia Kontio emphasised that it is now important to take the first and second doses of the vaccine.

"A rush to roll out third vaccinations is not an immediate concern. We will first look at the results of the study and think about to whom a third vaccination is to be recommended," Kontio said.

Mika Salminen added that there are no signs that the protection provided two vaccinations is waning in Finland.