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THL: Vaccination of 12-15-year-olds in risk groups can begin "as soon as possible"

The health agency also recommended that people work from home if possible during the summer to help keep infection rates low.

Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki and Satu Koskela from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health alongside THL's Mika Salminen.
Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki and Satu Koskela from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health alongside THL's Mika Salminen at Thursday morning's press briefing. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has recommended that coronavirus vaccines be given to children in at-risk groups aged between 12 and 15 "as soon as possible".

At the weekly coronavirus briefing on Thursday morning, the agency said that studies have shown Pfizer's Comirnaty vaccine is very effective in preventing coronavirus infections among this age group.

The Pfizer dose is also the only vaccine currently authorised to vaccinate people as young as 12 years of age.

In the United States, more than 7.5 million 12- to 17-year-olds have already been vaccinated, and no significant age-related safety concerns have been identified during the roll out.

The agency also noted that the need for hospital care in Finland for children and young people has been low throughout the pandemic.

Ministry: EU vaccination cert introduced before Midsummer

Finland's national coronavirus vaccination certificate is set to be introduced on 22 June, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health announced at Thursday morning's press conference.

The certificate will be available free of charge from the Omakanta national patient database, the ministry added. People who do not use the Omakanta service can apply for a coronavirus vaccination certificate from healthcare providers.

The ministry said the Omakanta service will be able to receive EU vaccination certificates, which will enable vaccinated people to travel within the EU, or negative test results by July.

Infection rate dropping, but telecommuting recommendation remains

The director of THL's Department for Health Security, Mika Salminen, told the press briefing that Finland's infection rate has dropped to 23 per 100,000 inhabitants.

He added that the burden on healthcare services has also significantly eased, with 43 patients currently being treated in hospital for the virus, 12 of whom are in intensive care.

Despite the falling infection rate, the ministry said that the recommendation to work from home when possible will remain in place throughout the summer, as it has been a very effective means of curbing the spread of infections. The recommendation applies especially to regions considered to be in the acceleration and community transmission phases of the pandemic.

The recommendation will be reviewed again in August, the ministry added.

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