Finland to vaccinate healthcare staff first against COVID-19

Healthcare personnel treating COVID-19 patients or working in elderly care homes will be first to get their shots in January

  
People wear face masks at the Hakaniemi Sunday market, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Helsinki, Finland November 1, 2020. Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via REUTERS

People wear face masks at the Hakaniemi Sunday market, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Helsinki, Finland November 1, 2020. Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via REUTERS

HELSINKI - Finland's government said on Thursday it had agreed a national strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations, planning to give them to everyone, beginning with selected healthcare staff from January.

"Finland's goal is to protect the entire population by offering the vaccine free of charge to all those willing and who don't have a health obstacle," Krista Kiuru, the minister in charge of Finland's COVID-19 response, told reporters.

Finland is purchasing vaccines under the European Union's joint scheme in which deliveries will be shared between different countries in proportion to their population.

Under the agreements the European Commission has secured so far, Finland will get 3.6 million doses, which is enough to give the necessary two doses to 1.8 million citizens out of Finland's 5.5 million population, its public health authority said, adding purchases would continue.

Healthcare personnel treating COVID-19 patients or working in elderly care homes will be first to get their shots in January, followed by the elderly and other vulnerable groups, the government said.

It ruled out vaccinating children before more studies on the topic had been concluded.

Authorities warned the pandemic was rapidly worsening. The disease's 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants has doubled to 101 cases from 55 in the previous two-week period.

Nevertheless, Finland's incidence rate was among the lowest in Europe on Wednesday, behind Iceland at 55.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and Ireland at 83.8, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data showed.

(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Alex Richardson and Mark Potter) ((anne.kauranen@thomsonreuters.com; +358925166112;))

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