Order of priority for COVID-19 vaccination to be specified — changes to right to administer vaccines
On 16 April, the Government amended the decree on voluntary COVID-19 vaccinations. The amended decree will specify Finland’s current order of priority for COVID-19 vaccination. It will also expand the group of people authorised to administer vaccines. In addition, it will make it possible to temporarily target vaccines by region on the epidemiological grounds that are uniform and defined in a transparent manner.
The decree will enter into force on 19 April 2021. Section 2a of the decree concerning the targeted allocation of vaccines to regions will be temporary and remain in force until 31 May 2021.
Vaccines administered by age group
Once vaccines have been given to the three main priority groups — people at risk, older people and healthcare and social welfare workers caring for COVID-19 patients — the rest of the population will be vaccinated by age group. Vaccines will be administered in descending order as follows: 60–69-year-olds, 50–59-year-olds, 40–49-year-olds, 30–39-year-olds and 16–29-year-olds.
The amendment to the decree will also allow vaccine injections to be administered by dentists. In addition, persons studying to be healthcare professionals (doctors, dentists, nurses, public health nurses or midwives) will also be authorised to administer vaccines under the guidance and supervision of a professional. This requires that the person has received the appropriate vaccination training. Previously, vaccines could only be administered by doctors or by nurses, public health nurses or midwifes with appropriate vaccination training.
Vaccines can be temporarily targeted by region
Under the amended decree, vaccines can be temporarily targeted by region. This was not possible before. The temporary amendment concerning the targeted allocation of vaccines to regions will remain in force until 31 May 2021.
In future, vaccine doses can be distributed in a targeted manner on the basis of uniform epidemiological grounds that are defined in a transparent manner. The principles of targeting set out in the decree take account of the availability of vaccines in Finland and any logistical challenges related to them. The decree will ensure that all regions receive vaccines.
In future, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare should allocate the batches of the Moderna vaccine and one third of the batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in Finland to those hospital districts where at least 100 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants have been reported in the 14 days preceding the distribution of vaccine batches. Vaccines will be allocated to these hospital districts based not only on the number of people in the hospital district but also on the number of COVID-19 cases in the previous 14 days and the number of patients in specialised healthcare in the previous 14 days with equal weight given to all three factors.
Targeted allocation will only be possible if all people over 70 years of age and all those belonging to risk groups in the region have had the opportunity to receive their first dose of the vaccine. In addition, targeted allocation must not prevent a person from receiving their second dose of the vaccine that is necessary to achieve vaccination coverage or delay their second dose.
The draft decree was circulated for comments between 1 and 13 April 2021. Altogether 51 comments were received.
Paula Tiittala, Senior Medical Officer, [email protected] (distribution of vaccines)
Mirka-Tuulia Kuoksa, Legal Adviser, [email protected]
Liisa Katajamäki, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected]