Covid-19: Denmark decides against additional booster this winter

No additional booster vaccination against Covid-19 will be offered this winter, the Danish Health Authority confirmed on Wednesday.

Covid-19: Denmark decides against additional booster this winter
Signs point the way to a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Copenhagen in 2021. No additional booster will be offered to the public this winter after the autumn 2022 booster programme, health authorities have confirmed. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Together with an expert advisory group, the Health Authority has considered whether to offer vulnerable groups an extra booster vaccination against Covid-19 this winter.

People at higher risk of serious illness with the virus including those over the age of 85 will not be offered a further booster this winter, the authority has decided.

Denmark offered a booster in autumn 2022 to all people over the age of 50 and younger people considered vulnerable to the coronavirus.

The booster was backed up by data suggesting it improves protection against hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 74 percent, according to the Danish Health Authority.

READ ALSO: Danish research finds improved protection from updated Covid-19 vaccine

Infection numbers in Denmark are currently low.

“We have the highest vaccine uptake in Europe and the vaccines have proved to be effective, including for the elderly and most vulnerable. We are in a good place in the Covid-19 epidemic. We can only be pleased about this,” head of section and consultant physician Kirstine Moll Harboe said in the statement.

The health authority nevertheless expects immunity and effectiveness of vaccines to fall over time and will therefore develop a plan for a new booster vaccination campaign to take place in the autumn.

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Can you get a covid vaccine in Denmark if you’re not in the at-risk groups?

If you’re not in one of the ‘high risk’ categories, a covid booster can be hard to come by in Denmark.

Can you get a covid vaccine in Denmark if you’re not in the at-risk groups?

A growing body of research indicates that keeping your covid vaccination up to date decreases your risk of long covid—a range of cardiovascular, neurological and respiratory symptoms that can be debilitating. But accessing the vaccine booster is not straightforward in Denmark if you are not within one of the ‘risk groups’ for the national annual booster scheme.

Ahead of winter 2023, the Danish government made a significant change to its covid vaccination policy. From November 2022 until October 2023, anyone who wanted to get vaccinated could do so at the government vaccination centres for a modest fee.

But in October 2023, the Danish government said it was bowing out of the elective booster game, since “vaccines will be sold on the private market under normal market conditions,” the Danish Health Ministry (Sundhedsministeriet) wrote.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 no longer given special status in Denmark

But it seems pharmacies and private clinics didn’t step in to fill the void the way the Danish government expected—although public health websites linked out to the Apotek pharmacy chain as a resource for voluntary covid vaccination, Apotek pharmacy confirmed to the Local Denmark via email that they did not offer paid covid vaccines this year.

As of February 5th, the only option for a voluntary covid booster in the Greater Copenhagen metropolitan area is through Copenhagen Medical, a private clinic in Sankt Annæ Plads near Nyhavn that offers a range of travel vaccines and tests. The Pfizer booster costs 920 kroner.

Other companies offer paid vaccinations, but the closest clinics are at least 30 km away (for instance, the Danske Lægers Vaccinations Service offers paid covid vaccines at their Roskilde and Hillerød locations).

The public covid vaccine campaign ended on January 15th, by when 1.1 million people had received a Covid vaccine during the 2023-2024 season in Denmark, according to the State Serum Institute, Denmark’s infectious disease agency.

SSI told the Local that it is unable to determine how many of those were through the public vaccination programme and how many were paid for at private clinics.