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COVID-19

Coronavirus: EU warns healthcare capacity could be exceeded

The risk is high that European healthcare systems will be overwhelmed by the new coronavirus outbreak, the EU's health agency warns.

Coronavirus: EU warns healthcare capacity could be exceeded
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also called for a slew of measures to be implemented to halt the spread of the deadly disease – including quarantines of confirmed or suspected carriers and bans on mass gatherings.

The Stockholm-based agency said on Thursday that systems in EU countries and the European Economic Area (EAA) – Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway – along with Britain could be overstretched.

“The risk of healthcare system capacity being exceeded in the EU/EAA and the UK in the coming weeks is considered high,” the ECDC said in a statement.

It also recommended “social distancing” measures at workplaces and cancellation of non-essential work travel and meetings, as well as measures to be taken at schools, including possible closures.

And it urged “cordon… of residential areas with high levels of community transmission”.

Meanwhile, the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said in a Twitter post that measures to curb the spread of the disease were “more than ever necessary across EU”.

“Only with aggressive containment action can we delay the transmission of COVID-19. Many member states have already taken far-reaching measures, impacting the daily lives of our citizens and economy,” Kyriakides said.

There are more than 22,000 people infected in Europe, where nearly 950 people have died from the illness. The vast majority, however, experience only mild symptoms and fully recover.

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COVID-19

When should I get my next dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Sweden?

Covid-19 has not been classified as a "critical threat to society" in Sweden since April. But the Swedish Public Health Agency still recommends that everyone aged 12 and above get vaccinated. So when should you get your next dose?

When should I get my next dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Sweden?

As winter approaches, it’s a good time to check that you’re up to date on your booster shots.

If you’re aged 12 or older, the agency recommends that you should at least have completed your primary dose of the vaccine, which comprises two shots. Because vaccine efficacy wanes over time, if you are aged 18 and above, you should have already had your third dose.

The booster dose, called a påfyllnadsdos, can be administered a minimum of four months after the primary dose or the most recent booster. A booster shot is recommended even if you have tested positive for Covid-19 since your most recent vaccination, because the protection offered by a vaccine is more reliable than that offered by an infection.

The agency has also warned that the Omicron BA.5 variant spreads more easily than previous Covid-19 mutations.

Deliveries of two of the new vaccines targeting the new variant, Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1 and Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1, have arrived in Sweden but have not yet reached all health regions, meaning it is not certain that if you will currently receive the updated vaccine. 

A third vaccine, an adapted version of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech), is expected to arrive in Sweden in October. 

READ ALSO: When will the new Covid-19 vaccines be available in Sweden?

The höstdosen, or “autumn vaccine”

On September 1, the agency issued new guidelines for a höstdosen, or autumn vaccine dose.

During the campaign, all adults aged 18 and over who belong to an at-risk group are recommended to get a booster dose, as are seniors aged 65 and above. 

Risk categories include people who are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, have heart and lung diseases, or have Down syndrome.

You can get the autumn booster regardless of how many vaccine doses you may have received, which means it might be a fourth shot for some people, and a fifth for others.

The autumn vaccine is also available for those aged 18-64 who do not fall into any of the at-risk categories but would like a fourth dose. The Swedish Public Health Agency has said that regional health providers must make booster doses available to those who want them.

Chart showing recommended vaccination schedules. Chart: Folkhälsomyndigheten

Chart showing recommended vaccination schedules. Chart: Swedish Public Health Agency

How do I get an appointment for the autumn dose? 

Region Stockholm has been offering appointments for an autumn vaccination to everyone over 18 since September 12th. You can book a dose through the Alltid Öppet app

In Region Skåne, the region responsible for healthcare in Malmö and Lund, appointments for an autumn vaccine have been available since August 22nd. Appointments are available for vaccinations in Region Stockholm, as are drop-in times at locations listed on 1177.se.

In Region Västergötland, the region responsible for healthcare in Gothenburg, health centres, or vårdcentraler, are prioritising people aged 80 and older.

Those in other categories, including at-risk adults 18 and older and seniors over 65, are requested to make their vaccination appointments with other providers through 1177.se

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