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AstraZeneca vaccine not for over-65s

04.02.2021 - 12:12
epa08968294 (FILE) - The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in a refrigerator at Robertson House in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, Britain, 11 January 2021 (reissued 27 January 2021). AstraZeneca has rejected EU's criticism of its vaccine rollout process, after the company had announced delays in delivering the agreed doses to the bloc.  EPA-EFE/JOE GIDDENS / POOL
Þjóðverjar efast um að bóluefni AstraZeneca sé nógu gott fyrir fólk sem orðið er 65 ára og eldra. Mynd: EPA-EFE - PA
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be used exclusively for people under the age of 65 in Iceland, it has this morning been confirmed. Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason says people older than 65 will continue to be immunised with other vaccines. AstraZeneca vaccines administered in Iceland will be given in two doses, three months apart.

These decisions have been taken to maximise the efficacy of the vaccine, Þórólfur says. A growing number of countries have decided not to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 65 following research that suggests it is likely less effective for that age group.

While the very elderly have been prioritised for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines already in use in Iceland, the AstraZeneca one will be focused first on nursing home staff and people under 65 with underlying medical issues. Þórólfur says people will not be allowed to choose which company’s vaccine they receive, though vaccination itself is not mandatory. It has not yet been decided whether the AstraZeneca vaccines from each shipment will all be used at the same time, or whether half will be stored for the second dose three months later. 

Þórólfur said this morning that although the rate of infection in Iceland is currently very low, the virus has not gone away, and caution is still necessary until the vaccination programme achieves its goal. He says 60 cases of the British variant of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Iceland—all either at the border or in people close to those border cases—and that the variant has not been found in wider society. The South African and Brazilian variants of the virus have not been detected yet. 

Þórólfur will present his recommendations for the next set of anti-contagion rules to the health minister just before or after the weekend, he confirmed.  

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