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Covid jab bookings now open online for elderly in Uusimaa

Appointments can be made online or by phone, but eligibility rules vary by municipality.

Sote-henkilöstölle annettiin koronavirusrokotteita Helsingissä tammikuun 2021 alussa.
Older people will receive a pamphlet outlining the vaccination programme. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Residents of Uusimaa aged 85 or over can now reserve appointments to receive the coronavirus vaccine through a new website.

People in the region can book a slot online at koronarokotusaika.fi (link in Finnish) after using their bank ID or mobile certificate to confirm their identity.

Currently, users will be able to reserve a time to receive the first dose of the vaccine. They will be able to make an appointment for their second dose during their first appointment. In future, they will be able to book both appointments online.

Eligibility varies by age and municipality

Coronavirus vaccinations will be carried out in stages, with each municipality responsible for vaccinating its own residents.

Although residents of any municipality in Uusimaa can book a time slot using koronarokotusaika.fi, their eligibility to receive the vaccine will vary depending on where they live.

The municipal vaccination schedule is based on the guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Some municipalities in Uusimaa will begin vaccinating residents aged 80 and above, while others will start by vaccinating people over the age of 85.

In Espoo, mass vaccinations will begin with people over 85 years of age well as their carers living at the same address.

Topi Turunen, an Espoo-based doctor specialising in infectious diseases, said that appointments will be bookable one week at a time.

"In the initial phase, appointments will only be opened for a week at a time because the coronavirus vaccine deliveries to the city are quite small. When more doses of the vaccine become available, more time slots can be opened," Turunen said.

There is enough vaccine available for about 1,700 people in Espoo this week. There are almost 10,000 people over the age of 80 living in the city. Some elderly residents living in nursing homes have already been vaccinated.

"The vaccine is worth taking, as age is the most significant and serious risk factor. The vaccines that are now being distributed have also been shown to provide effective protection in the elderly," Turunen said.

According to Turunen, the takers of the first appointments available will be able to get their first shots on 27 January.

Helsinki starts vaccinations next week

For residents of Helsinki aged 85 and over, as well as carers living with them, coronavirus vaccinations will begin on 1 February.

"We will start vaccinations in three locations, with a fourth coming later. We believe we have a large capacity for bookings over the phone, but we hope there won't be a rush at the beginning. We also hope that people not currently eligible for a vaccination will wait their turn," said Timo Lukkarinen, Helsinki's Medical Director.

In Helsinki, over 2,000 vaccines will be available for the elderly next week. There are about 14,000 Helsinki residents who were born in 1936 or before.

Delays for younger people

Vaccines for younger people may take a little longer to arrive.

Finland had originally hoped to have vaccinated everyone who wanted the jab by the summer, but delayed delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine is likely to make that goal unattainable.

AstraZeneca said that it would have to cut supplies to the EU to 31 million doses of the vaccine in the first quarter of 2021, some 60 percent down on the nearly 100 million doses the EU had ordered.

On Monday the EU Commission said that it was dissatisfied with the company's actions and would in future require vaccine makers to get an export license for any Covid vaccines produced in the block to be sent elsewhere.

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