Monday March 27, 2023

No need for booster COVID-19 vaccination in spring: THL

Published : 03 Mar 2023, 00:26

Updated : 03 Mar 2023, 00:31

  DF Report
DF File Photo.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) does not recommend a population-wide booster vaccination round against coronavirus for this spring, said THL in a press release on Thursday.

Booster doses are however recommended for people with severe immune deficiencies, where each case will be assessed individually by a physician.

The epidemic situation in Finland is calm at the moment, and there is currently no reason to expect any epidemic surges in the spring similar to last year, said THL.

The number of patients has decreased considerably in both specialised medical care and primary health care. The number of deaths due to coronavirus is also lower than before.

“We are still constantly monitoring the epidemic situation, the need for hospitalisation and deaths in different age and risk groups”, said Hanna Nohynek, Chief Physician of THL.

In September, THL recommended a booster dose for everyone aged 65 or over and persons in risk groups aged 18 or over.

“The people who got the booster have fresh immune protection, so a new booster round in the spring would not give them significant additional benefits in preventing severe coronavirus disease”, said Nohynek.

By 23 February 2023, more than 860,000 variant-tailored booster doses had been administered in Finland. The recommendation concerns about two million people in total. Variant boosters are still available from wellbeing services counties.

For healthy people aged under 65, the recommended three doses of the vaccine – or two doses and having had COVID-19 – offer high-level and long-term protection against serious disease. During the 14-month monitoring period, the level of protection has hardly decreased, and it is not expected that the protection will significantly deteriorate in this age group.

“On the flip side, coronavirus vaccinations only give minor and short-term protection against Omicron infections”, Nohynek added.

From the start of March 2023, THL recommends administering booster coronavirus vaccinations to persons aged 12 or over with severe immunodeficiency based on an individual risk assessment by a treating physician.

It is also recommended to assess the need for coronavirus medication when an infection occurs, as those with severe immune deficiency do not always produce a response to the vaccine or their response may be weak.

People with severe immune deficiency do not gain equally good protection against COVID-19 from vaccines as healthy people do. People with severe immune deficiency include persons who have undergone organ transplantation, who are receiving dialysis treatment or who have received chemotherapy within a year.

“Each treating physician can assess their patient’s need for boosting the vaccination protection, the patient’s immune response, risk of illness, other means of protection and timing in relation to other treatment”, said Mika Muhonen, Medical Specialist of THL.