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Finland recommends Covid vaccinations for 12-15 year-olds

Vaccinations for the age group are scheduled to begin in August.

Kvinnor sitter på en solig strand i Solvik, Helsingfors, med ryggarna mot kameran.
According to THL's latest figures, Finland's Covid-19 incidence rate was 20 out of 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. Image: Lehtikuva

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has recommended that children between the ages of 12 and 15 should receive Covid vaccinations.

The health agency made the announcement during a joint press briefing alongside the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health about Finland's epidemic situation on Thursday.

THL said that vaccinations of the 12-15 age group are scheduled to begin in August.

Finland's future supply of Covid vaccines looks good at the moment, Mia Kontio, a vaccine specialist at the health institute, said during the press briefing, noting that the country will have received a total of around 9.5 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year.

Finnish health care workers currently administer around 70,000 doses of Covid vaccines per day.

As of Thursday, about 56.3 percent of the country's residents had received at least one of the vaccine's two doses. By the beginning of July, Kontio said that 80 percent of residents over the age of 16 will have received their first dose.

"This is good news," she said at Thursday's briefing.

Meanwhile, 87 percent of the population who are over the age of 50 have received their first dose.

Positive outlook ahead of Midsummer

Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, the ministry's strategic affairs director, characterised Finland's epidemic situation ahead of the Midsummer holiday weekend as generally hopeful. She said very few new Covid cases were being diagnosed in most parts of the country, noting that half of the cases were seen in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), with the second-most cases in the region of Pirkanmaa.

New case and incidence rates have fallen over the past two weeks, and the need for hospital treatment for the disease has also significantly decreased, Voipio-Pulkki said, noting that no new patients had been admitted to intensive care units across the country over the past 24 hours.

According to THL's latest figures, Finland's Covid-19 incidence rate was 20 out of 100,000 residents over the past two weeks.

Football returnees

On Thursday it was reported that dozens of coronavirus infections were detected in individuals who arrived from Russia at the Vaalimaa border earlier this week. In the southeastern region of Kymenlaakso, where the Vaalimaa is located, a total of 60 cases have been detected over the past two days.

The news came after queues at the Vaalimaa crossing on Tuesday forced authorities to allow 800 travellers into Finland without being tested. The influx took place when hundreds of football fans made their way home after watching Finland play Belgium in the European Championship finals in St. Petersburg.

At Thursday's briefing, THL Medical Specialist Otto Helve said that many more of the returnees' Covid tests were still underway.

"The overall picture is not yet in place, but it will be established over the next few days," Helve said.

Voipio-Pulkki said that the Russian border incident was exceptional and the decision to permit the travellers into the country without being tested may have been an error of judgement, noting that staffing levels at the border were usually adequate.

Low variant numbers

Helve noted that the number of new cases of the Covid variant Delta, formerly referred to as the variant from India, has increased in Finland. However, the numbers are still quite low

A total of 9,081 Covid variants have been reported in Finland:

  • B.1.1.7 Alpha (formerly variant from Britain): 7,374
  • B.1.351 Beta (formerly variant from South Africa): 1,402
  • P.1 Gamma (formerly variant from Brazil): 5
  • B.1.617.2 Delta (formerly variant from India): 300

Halve said that as vaccination rates increase in regions of the world with high infection rates, concerns about variants conversely decrease.

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