Healthcare and social welfare workers first in line to get authorised COVID-19 vaccines on voluntary basis
On 22 December, the Finnish Government issued a decree on vaccinations, which is needed to deploy the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Finland. The programme will use vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 that have been granted marketing authorisation in the European Union. It will be deployed once vaccines arrive in Finland. The decree will enter into force on 23 December 2020. Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary.
Finland will deploy voluntary COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as technically possible. Municipalities are responsible for organising the vaccinations. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare is responsible for delivering the vaccines to the municipalities and for providing them expert assistance.
The vaccine priority groups are as follows:
- healthcare and social welfare workers who examine or directly treat and care for patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 disease or who provide other kinds of urgent care, and workers and residents in care homes for older adults;
- all those 70 years of age and older;
- persons at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease due to underlying health conditions;
- other persons than those in priority groups 1–3.
Final priority order depends on the characteristics and intended use of authorised vaccines
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) will issue a more detailed breakdown of the priority groups based on age, risk factors, risk of severe disease or other relevant factors. It will be based on medical evidence and the therapeutic indications of the market-authorised vaccines. Vaccination of children will become topical once vaccines have been tested in children.
Doctors are responsible for planning and implementing the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Vaccine injections can only be administered by doctors or by nurses, public health nurses or midwives with appropriate vaccination training.
Healthcare and social welfare units in the public sector must organise COVID-19 vaccinations for their patients and residents and for the personnel who treat and care for them. The state will organise vaccinations in state establishments, such as prisons, state mental hospitals, state reform schools, the Finnish Defence Forces and the Finnish Border Guard.
Occupational healthcare can assist municipalities in the deployment of the programme by vaccinating employees. These vaccines, too, are bought and paid for by the state and they are delivered to municipalities free of charge. Municipalities can agree on vaccinations with occupational healthcare operators and distribute vaccines for their use. Occupational healthcare operators, too, must record all vaccination data in the Finnish National Vaccination Register maintained by THL.
All vaccination data in the vaccination register
Data on all administered vaccines must be entered in electronic patient information systems. This data includes the patient’s identification data, date of vaccination, name of vaccine, batch number, injection site, administration route and vaccinator.
The vaccination data must be transmitted to the Finnish National Vaccination Register maintained by THL in real time.
The decree on COVID-19 vaccinations will specify the Government Resolution on Finland’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, issued earlier on 10 December. The strategy defines the main principles of the vaccine priority order in Finland.