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THL Recommends Early COVID-19 Vaccine for the Elderly and High-Risk Groups This Autumn

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The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has advised that a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine be administered to the elderly and certain high-risk groups this upcoming autumn. This year, the vaccinations are recommended to be carried out earlier than in previous years and two phases. The booster dose is recommended for individuals in nursing homes and organized regular home care, those over 80 years old, and anyone with severe immunodeficiency, regardless of age. These vaccinations should commence as soon as the vaccines arrive in Finland in the autumn.

Additionally, the booster shot is recommended for all individuals aged 75–79, even though their risk of severe illness is somewhat lower compared to the higher-risk groups. THL advises that these vaccinations also be administered earlier than usual this autumn. Moreover, the COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to people aged 65 and over and to those aged 18 and over with chronic conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19, no later than the autumn influenza vaccination period. The welfare regions will handle the logistics of the vaccinations in their areas and will provide information on where and when the vaccines will be available.

COVID-19 Vaccine Crucial for Reducing Hospitalizations and Deaths in Elderly and High-Risk Groups

The COVID-19 vaccinations aim to reduce hospitalizations and deaths caused by COVID-19. THL’s recommendations are based on data from hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 in the autumn of 2023, individuals’ chronic conditions, age, and the COVID-19 vaccinations administered during that period.

“Our analysis shows that vaccination is very effective for people over 80 and those with severe immunodeficiency. Vaccinating nursing home residents can prevent many COVID-19 deaths, as most fatalities occur in these settings,” said THL Research Professor Tuija Leino. Vaccination of those under 75 is not as effective as it is for older individuals.

COVID-19 Vaccine

THL Recommends COVID-19 Vaccine for Elderly and High-Risk Groups This Autumn

The risk of severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalization increases significantly with age, but the number and severity of chronic conditions that increase this risk vary widely among individuals. Therefore, vaccines should also be offered to other individuals aged 65 and over and to those over 18 with chronic conditions that increase the risk of COVID-19.

Currently, the autumn COVID-19 vaccinations will use variant-adapted vaccines updated in line with the European Medicines Agency’s recommendations against the new JN.1 variant. These COVID-19 vaccination recommendations are based on joint evaluations by the National Vaccination Expert Group (KRAR) and THL.

 

Resource: Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, May 23, 2024

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