Sweden has vaccinated more than 330,000 people against Covid-19, and given both doses to more than 100,000 people, according to fresh figures released on Thursday.
But as The Local reported earlier this week, it is going to take longer than expected before vaccinations of adults aged over 65 can get under way. This is due to delayed deliveries of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Swedish Health Minister Lena Hallengren told a press conference on Thursday that despite the hurdles, Sweden still plans to offer the vaccine to everyone over the age of 18 within the first six months of the year.
“Nothing today suggests that we would not be able to manage this, on the condition that we get our contracted deliveries,” said Hallengren.
According to SKR, the umbrella organisation for Sweden's 21 regions and 290 municipalities, the regions will be able to scale up their vaccination programmes as soon as they get access to more vaccine doses.
SKR healthcare chief Emma Spak added that the delayed deliveries meant that instead of getting vaccinations of over-65s under way in early February as planned, they would have to start later.
“More of the vaccinations will have to be carried out in the second quarter,” she said.
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This is Sweden's current vaccination plan:
Phase 1: People who live in elderly care homes or receive at-home care, as well as healthcare and care workers who have close contact with vulnerable people and other adults who share a household with people receiving at-home care.
This is the phase that got under way in December 2020.
Phase 2: This phase will include all adults aged over 65, starting with the oldest. The AstraZeneca vaccine is currently only recommended in Sweden for people younger than 65, so it is mainly planned for the next phases.
People with certain medical conditions have been added to this category, including those on dialysis or recent transplant recipients, and other adults who share a household with them.
People aged 18 and above who receive LSS disability support, and people working in the medical and care sectors who have close contact with patients are also included in this phase.
Phase 3: This phase includes 18-64-year-olds who belong to a risk group, for example people with chronic cardiovascular disease or diabetes, and it now also includes all adults aged 60-64, even those who do not belong to a risk group.
As well as the groups at high risk of serious illness from Covid-19, this phase will also include people who belong to groups which may have trouble following the national recommendations to reduce the risk of infection. This includes for example people with dementia or Down Syndrome and homeless people.
Phase 4: This phase includes the remaining adult population, aged 18-59, who do not belong to a risk group.