Covid passport boosts vaccinations among young adults, coverage nearly 78%

The introduction of the Covid passport seems to have spurred people under 35 to take their first dose of vaccine.

The health ministry's Director of Strategic Affairs Pasi Pohjola and Chief Medical Officer Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki with THL Chief Physician Otto Helve. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The Covid-19 situation in Finland has remained largely unchanged over the past couple of weeks, according to officials from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

At a weekly briefing on Thursday, they warned, however, of major regional differences in infection and vaccination rates as well as hospitalisations.

The introduction of the Covid passport seems to have increased the willingness of people under 35 to take their first dose of coronavirus vaccine. An increasing number of restaurants, bars and clubs are requiring a valid pass for entry, as this allows them to remain open later.

There has also been a rise in vaccinations among youngsters aged 12-15. This may be partly explained by travel related to last week’s autumn school holidays.

80% coverage unlikely before November

THL announced that full vaccine coverage among the eligible population, aged 12 and over, has reached 77.5 percent. The government has been aiming for 80 percent coverage by the end of October, but that now appears more likely to be attained in early November.

More than eight million vaccine doses have been administered in Finland, including 4.2 million first doses. The nation has a population of just over 5.5 million.

Approximately 3.8 million second doses and 89,000 third doses, or booster shots, have been administered.

More first jabs have been given in the last two weeks than during the preceding fortnight. Authorities said this has apparently been spurred by the adoption of the Covid passport in mid-October.

Epidemic of unvaccinated worsening

In the general population, the incidence of Covid infections is 133 infections per 100,000 inhabitants over a two-week period.

Unvaccinated people have significantly more infections than the rest of the population, with an incidence of 490 infections per 100,000 in unvaccinated people aged 12-79.

In the last two weeks, unvaccinated individuals aged 12-79 have been admitted to specialised healthcare 15 times more often than fully vaccinated people in the same age group. The risk has been highest in those aged 50–69 years, more than 50 times higher than their fully vaccinated counterparts.

Reproductive rate slowly declining

Nationally, the epidemic is no longer growing, but regional disparities remain large.

Infections have remained around the same level for the past month. Approximately 3,600-4,000 new infections are diagnosed per week.

The reproductive rate (or R number) has continued to slowly decline, and is now estimated at 0.90–1.05. In other words, each infected person will pass the virus on to about one other person on average.