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SWINE FLU

Hockey team on thin ice over swine flu queue hop

A Swedish ice hockey team has come in for withering criticism after it was revealed on Thursday that the squad’s players were vaccinated for the swine flu ahead of pregnant women and the chronically ill.

Hockey team on thin ice over swine flu queue hop

“It goes completely against our principles and priorities to vaccinate completely healthy ice hockey players before people who belong to one of the risk groups,” said Claes-Göran Björck, a local healthcare manager with Dalarna County health services, in a statement.

Björck’s criticism is directed primarily at Leksand team doctor Ronny Borelius, who ordered 50 doses of swine flu vaccine from the town’s local health clinic to vaccinate patients he claimed belonged to a specific risk group.

Instead, the doses were used to vaccinate players on the Leksand ice hockey team, as well as the team’s coaches.

Borelius defended his decision to the local Dala-Demokraten newspaper, however, arguing that the hockey players do in fact belong to a special risk group because they meet so many people.

“We have many asthmatics on the team with sensitive bronchi. They body check and sweat and there is a high risk for contagion,” he told the newspaper.

Borelius added that money also played a role in the decision, explaining that the team needs to have healthy players in order to compete.

Currently, Leksand is tied for first place in Sweden’s second highest ice hockey league, the Hockey Allsvenskan.

But the team doctor’s justification failed to sway local health officials, who threatened to take legal action.

“I can’t draw any other conclusion than that Borelius misled Leksand’s local clinic when he asked for the vaccine,” said Björck

“We’re now going to launch a thorough investigation into what happened, and if it is revealed that irregularities occurred we will consider taking legal action.”

Leksand’s decision to vaccinate its players has also drawn criticism from the National Board of Health and Weflare (Socialstyrelsen)

“That just can’t happen, we’ve gone out with clear guidelines that risk groups and medical personnel should be vaccinated first,” said the agency’s Anders Tegnell.

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VACCINE

Five of Sweden’s regions open Covid-19 vaccine booking to all over-18s

Västra Götaland will open up Covid-19 vaccination booking to all over-18s on Thursday, a full month ahead of schedule, making it one of five Swedish regions offering the vaccine to all adults. At the same time, Stockholm and Skåne have opened up to more young adults.

Five of Sweden's regions open Covid-19 vaccine booking to all over-18s
The Covid-19 vaccine is becoming available to people in lower and lower age groups. Photo: Erik Mårtensson / TT

Currently Norrbotten, Jönköping, Sörmland, and Västernorrland are offering appointments for Covid-19 vaccines to all adults over the age of 18, with several other regions following suit in the next few days. 

While age groups and availability differ across the regions, most regional health departments are asking that people don’t travel to different regions in order to access the vaccine earlier.

From later today, booking will also open to all over-18s in Västra Götaland. This is a month ahead of schedule, with the plans being changed due to decrease in booking numbers and to make the process simpler for residents and vaccine providers.

Other regions are slowly opening up appointments to younger age groups, with the timing dependent on availability of vaccines and the take-up rate among older age groups. 

Vaccination booking was set to open to everyone over 18 in Halland from July 2nd and in Örebro from July 12th, at the time of publication.

The two other major city regions, Stockholm and Skåne, have also extended the age groups eligible for booking although the youngest adults cannot yet book a time. In Stockholm, vaccination opened on Tuesday to people born in 1991 or earlier, and in Skåne booking will open to those born in 1996 or earlier as of Wednesday evening.

The Skåne region said in a statement: “The take-up of vaccinations in the 25-29 age group will determine whether we can release vaccine slots to all aged over 18 next week.” 

People over 18 and in a Covid-19 risk group (including those with weakened immune systems, diabetes, or receiving disability support, and other conditions) can already get the vaccine in all regions across the country. 

The vaccine is free and voluntary. You are eligible to get a free vaccine if you live here, even if you do not have a Swedish personnummer, but you might need to call your doctors’ office directly in that case.  

Currently, anyone aged 18 and over in Norrbotten can make an appointment for vaccination. 

  • To book, either log in via 1177.se and book a time at a doctor’s office or vaccination centre, or call 010-452 63 03 on weekdays between 9-4pm. If you call, you will be put in a queue and called back, which may take several days due to the high call volume.

Sörmland is offering the Covid-19 vaccine to all people who are 18 years or older. 

  • You can book by logging into 1177.se, which requires a digital ID, or by calling 016-10 40 44 on weekdays between 8-5pm. You can find more information here

The vaccination is now available to everyone over 18 in Västernorrland.

  • You need to book a slot directly with the doctor’s office; contact details are available from 1177. You can also use the app, MittVaccin. BankID is not required, but you do need a personnummer to book online. You can call 0611-804 00 for assistance, which is open on weekdays from 8-4pm and weekends from 10-4pm. 

Jönköping opened to over-18s on Wednesday:

  • People who are eligible for the vaccination can book via 1177.se or the region’s health site, or directly via the doctor’s offices offering vaccinations, which you can find here. You do not need a digital ID to do this, but if you can’t book online you should ring the doctor’s office directly.

Västra Götaland has just opened up booking to all adults aged over 18.  

  • The region advises people who are eligible to book directly at your doctor’s office, preferably via 1177.se, which has contact details for doctor’s offices. 

The Public Health Agency is aiming to have all adults offered at least the first dose of the vaccine by mid-September. Then the roll out is set to begin for those between 16 and 18. 

This information was correct to the best of our knowledge on June 30th.

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