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VACCINE

Two Swedish regions pause Astra jabs after mild side-effects

Two regions in Sweden have temporarily stopped vaccinating health workers with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, after as many as one in four reported side effects.

Two Swedish regions pause Astra jabs after mild side-effects
Sweden is using the Astra Zeneca vaccine to inoculate health workers under the age of 65. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/TT
On Friday, the region of Sormland, south of Stockholm, stopped giving the Astra Zeneca jab, after 100 of a total 400 hospital employers reported high temperatures and other side effects.
 
Gävleborg, north of Stockholm has also stopped giving the vaccine, and Jönkoping has expressed concern over the surprisingly large number of side effects. 
 
“We're stopping partly to investigate [the situation] but also so that we don't suffer staff shortages,” Magnus Johansson, the health chief in Sormland region, told Sweden's state broadcaster SVT
 
Fredrik Gustavsson, a press spokesperson for the region, said that although the side effects were not serious, more staff than expected had called in sick after receiving the vaccine on Thursday. 
 
Tina Mansson Söderlund, vaccine coordinator in the Gävleborg Region, told SVT that the side effects were the expected ones: “It's the usual ones: chills, body aches and fever,” she said.
 
“The problem is that we have vaccinated so many people in the same workplace.That's why we're pausing. It's nothing to do with the vaccine. We are just a little worried about staffing over the weekend.” 
 
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Andreas Heddini, the medical chief for Astra Zeneca in the Nordic region, said that he was puzzled by the reports.
 
“This doesn't fit at all with what we have seen [elsewhere],” he said. 
 
“There seem to have been a bigger share with side effects than expected. In studies, we've seen that around 10 percent can be expected to have side effects like these.” 
 
 
He emphasised that the side effects reported were not severe, and should be no cause for excessive concern. 
 
“We take everything surrounding the vaccine's safety extremely seriously, but our vaccine has now been given to many millions of people around the world, and even in clinical tests, and we have not seen any serious side effects.” 
 

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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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