THL: Recovered patients can receive second dose, Covid pass

Patients who have recovered from the virus and have been vaccinated once have not previously been entitled to a second dose.

Nurse Aishwarya Gauli issues Covid vaccines at Messukeskus in Helsinki. Image: Benjamin Suomela / Yle

Patients who have recovered from Covid are now permitted to receive a second dose of the vaccine, according to updated guidelines from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL.

In the past, the public health agency has recommended only one vaccine dose for patients that have recovered from the virus.

However, only one is not enough for people to obtain a Covid pass and therefore be eligible to travel abroad, for example. An EU Covid certificate, which also serves as a Covid pass in Finland, can only be obtained if a person has received two doses of the vaccine, been infected with Covid within six months, or received a negative test result within 72 hours.

Not all municipalities have given a second dose to those have been infected more than six months ago. About 30,000 people in Finland have fallen through these administrative cracks and say they find the situation unfair.

The only way these 30,000 people can get a Covid pass has been to obtain a negative test certificate valid for 72 hours.

THL specialist Mia Kontio told news agency STT that THL has not banned a second dose of the vaccine, but has based their recommendation on medical grounds, as a second dose of the vaccine is not needed for protection in people who have already been infected.

"Now we have changed the instructions to reflect that those who want it, can be vaccinated, whatever the reason," Kontio said, emphasising that THL's guidelines are recommendations and not binding agreements for municipalities.

She further added that those who have recovered from the virus and have been vaccinated once are not technically medically entitled to a second dose of the vaccine. However, THL hopes that the new guidelines will be taken into account by municipalities.

"The situation is exceptional and somewhat difficult," Kontio said.

Helsinki deputy mayor has been contacted by those ineligible for Covid passes

Deputy Mayor of Social and Health Affairs of the City of Helsinki, Daniel Sazonov, told STT that the city has been acting on the basis of THL's instructions.

"The City of Helsinki has already outlined that if THL changes its guidelines in this regard, we will act in accordance with the changed guidelines," Sazonov said.

The deputy mayor also said he has been contacted by people who have found themselves in problematic situations in which a Covid pass would have been required, but the document has not been accepted as valid with one single vaccine dose, even though the recovery from the virus has been documented.

"We are now at a point where so many people have been infected, that this is no longer a question of a few individuals," said Sazonov.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is currently looking to create a solution for those who have recovered from Covid more than six months ago, as well as received a single dose of vaccine, to obtain a Covid pass.

Work also continues to make the combination of recovery from the virus and one single dose of vaccine sufficient for an EU Covid pass. This decision, however, is up to the European Union.