Widespread vaccination of 5-11-year-olds underway

10.01.2022 - 14:26
Mynd: Hjalti Haraldsson / RUV
The vaccination of children aged 5-11 against COVID-19 starts this week in all regions of Iceland, with differing arrangements in different areas.

In the capital region, vaccination is taking place at the Laugardalshöll arena—as has been the case with adult vaccinations as well. A decision was taken not to vaccinate children at schools, as the original plan had indicated. 

Vaccination continues all week, with electronic invites sent to parents, who can choose to accept or reject the offer. In cases where a child has two legal guardians, both must accept in order for the child to receive vaccination. 

The open house vaccination for adults continues as well, weekdays from 10-15 at Laugardalshöll, with Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen vaccines on offer every day. This week, it is recommended adults come between 10.00 and midday, because of the mass vaccination of 5-11-year-olds in the afternoons all week. 

Everyone aged 16 and over who received their second base vaccination injection at least five months ago is welcome for a booster shot. No invitations are being sent. People just need to arrive at the vaccination centre and state their kennitala, the Heilsugæslan website explains. 

Between 22,000 and 23,000 children aged 5-11 will be invited for vaccination this week, of the roughly 33,000 in the age group in Iceland. Between 5,000 and 6,000 5-11-year-olds have already had covid and are not being invited for vaccination. The 33,000 figure also includes children who will turn five this year, but they will not be invited before their fifth birthday. Take-up is expected to be in the region of 50-70 percent, according to one leading children’s infectious diseases specialist. 

Understandable doubts 

There has been some discussion in society about the vaccination of children in light of the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine is still quite new and has not been in widespread use among children before now. Infectious diseases specialist Valtýr Stefánsson Thors says it is understandable that some parents are in two minds—not least because of the protests (pictured above) and often short-tempered debate on social media. 

Despite this, he says he expects most parents will accept the invite for vaccination and follow the advice of the health authorities. Half of the children with active COVID-19 infection in Iceland at the moment are aged 5-11 and the number admitted to hospital has increased. 

Though coronavirus infection among children has generally been milder, and rarely life-threatening, there are nevertheless many who have become very ill and needed to stay home from school and extracurricular activities for extended periods. 

“Thought the vaccine is new and many speak of it as an experimental treatment for children, that is not true,” Valtýr says. “The vaccine has been used on many millions of children with good effectiveness and few side-effects. The process of developing the vaccine was also not new: there are ten years of experience behind it.” 

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