Reader question: I cannot book to get the vaccination – despite the information and 1177.se saying that everyone can get the vaccine, you cannot if you have no personnummer. Is there anyone who can help to get this process fixed?
This was one of several questions we have received from readers who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine but have been told they cannot register with a doctor’s office or book a vaccination without a personnummer.
First thing’s first: lacking a personnummer, Sweden’s ten-digit social security code, should in theory not be a barrier to vaccination. Both the umbrella organisation for Sweden’s regions (SKR), the Public Health Agency, and individual regions have confirmed the vaccine should be offered to all adults who are living or “temporarily staying” in Sweden, including for example new arrivals, students, and others.
But in practice, the questions we have received show that this isn’t always happening.
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The Local contacted Sweden’s three largest regions (after hearing from readers in each of them who had struggled to book a slot without a personnummer) to find out the procedure. This showed that people without the number may need to contact a doctor’s office directly rather than booking via an app or general booking phone line.
A spokesperson for the Stockholm region said they had not heard of people without a personnummer being unable to book a vaccine. She said: “People who do not have a social security number are able to contact their health centre for help booking a vaccination.”
A spokesperson for the Skåne region gave the same advice: “They should contact one of our primary care centres in Skåne.”
A spokesperson in Västra Götaland said: “It is important that people who are temporarily staying in Sweden also have time to receive a second dose during their stay. People who are not registered in Sweden are covered by the priority scheme for vaccines. Read more on the Swedish Public Health Agency’s website. Everybody has the right to get vaccinated and we have clear guidelines concerning people without personnummer.
“If you cannot use online services, you can always call the various vaccinators to make an appointment. We have not received any complaints that people without social security numbers would have difficulty booking an appointment. There is an overall vaccine shortage that affects everyone, which means that many people have to wait to receive their dose.”
A different spokesperson in Västra Götaland recommended that people should “keep calling” and said that early in the week is generally the best time to book.
So according to the regions, people without a personnummer should be able to book a vaccine by contacting their doctor’s office or primary care centre (called vårdcentral in Swedish). Many of Sweden’s other regions give the same advice. It should be possible to find a list of vaccination centres and doctor’s offices in your region by going to the 1177.se website for your region.
But readers in Stockholm, Skåne and Västra Götaland have told The Local that when they contacted local vårdcentraler, they were redirected to the 1177.se healthcare service and told they could not register without a personnummer.
This shouldn’t be the case.
However, it often happens that staff are not clear on guidelines for people without a personnummer – this is also the case when opening a bank account or registering for Swedish language lessons for example.
The best advice we at The Local can offer is to know your rights and be persistent.
Two readers have contacted The Local to say they were able to book a vaccine slot thanks to calling their doctor’s office repeatedly.
It may help to try different doctor’s offices, or to share the information from the regions quoted above, or from the Public Health Agency, which states: “If you do not have an ID document, personnummer or samordningsnummer, you can still get vaccinated. You will receive a temporary number of healthcare that you need to save until you receive the second dose of vaccine. If you already have a number, you can use it. The number is only used in healthcare and cannot be used or traced by any other authority.”
The Local also raised the issue at a Covid-19 vaccine press conference organised by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKR) on May 26th. We asked what was being done to train staff in handling bookings by patients without personnummer.
Vaccine coordinators at the press conference stressed that people should generally call their doctor’s office for vaccine bookings, not 1177 (although you can use the 1177.se website to find information about which doctor’s office to call). In general, local doctor’s offices should be used to managing contact with patients who don’t have a personnummer and know what to do. SKR healthcare chief Emma Spak added:
“What you’re saying at The Local about how occasional mistakes are happening anyway, that’s important feedback. It has happened several times that these things emerge in discussions like this, for example information that needs to be finetuned. When you raise an issue like this it also becomes known to vaccine coordinators, and they can raise it with fellow vaccine coordinators. They are continuously working to make sure that everyone is aware of their respective assignments in the vaccination process.”
Article by Catherine Edwards, Chiara Milford and Emma Löfgren
If you have problems accessing the Covid-19 vaccine in Sweden, or if you have any questions about life in Sweden more generally, you can contact The Local’s editorial team by emailing [email protected].