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Finland changes guidance to avoid vaccine wastage

Doctors told Yle that Finland may have thrown out usable vaccine doses.

Pfizer-Biontechsin koronavirusrokote lähikuvassa.
Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine. Image: Sven Simon / AOP

Finland has changed its guidance on vaccination after it emerged that healthcare workers may have thrown out hundreds of usable doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, according to physicians involved in the vaccine programme.

The vials hold enough vaccine for six or seven doses, but guidance from the company states that only five should be used.

Some countries have, however, decided to use the additional shots as the vaccine is in such short supply.

Chief Physician at the Pirkanmaa hospital district Juhani Sand told Yle that in his region staff are sticking to the official guidelines and using five doses from each bottle.

"We are expecting consistent guidance on the matter as soon as possible," said Sand.

Mia Kontio, a specialist at the Finnish institute for Health and Welfare (THL), said on Wednesday afternoon that healthcare providers could now use all available vaccine.

THL's new guidance on vaccination allows nurses to use all the vaccine in the bottles.

"Six doses can be taken from the bottle if the vaccinator is sure that they can give a full dose," said Kontio.

Kontio had earlier told Ilta-Sanomat that some vaccines may have been discarded. She said both the manufacturer’s guideline and the sales permit indicate that the vials contain five doses.

"It’s normal practice that the more doses there are in a vial, the bigger the volume is. You can’t call them extra doses," Kontio told IS.

Norwegian paper VG earlier reported that Norway was discarding vials after extracting five doses while Denmark was using vaccines up to the last drop. VG said this meant Norway had already disposed of 400-800 doses of the vaccine.

Finland received its first 10,000-dose allotment of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine last Saturday.

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