Sweden currently offers the vaccine to all over-16s, and over-12s if they have an underlying medical condition. But the National Union of Teachers said that it wanted to see the public vaccination programme extended to all children over the age of 12.
“Ahead of the school start we’re seeing an increased spread of infection in society in general and we know it has been difficult, if not impossible, for schools to follow the Public Health Agency’s recommendations to keep a distance,” union chairperson Åsa Fahlén told Swedish news agency TT on Monday.
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The Public Health Agency has said there are currently no plans to lower the age limit, but it has not ruled it out completely either. It has argued that children spread the virus less than adults, and generally aren’t at as much risk of developing serious illness.
“It is not unthinkable that we are going to see outbreaks in schools in autumn here in Sweden, too. But as long as the outbreaks are very limited and don’t harm the children and don’t significantly affect community spread, that’s no reason to vaccinate some hundred thousands of children,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told TT in July.
“You never use medication unless you have to, especially not on otherwise healthy people. You always try to avoid that,” he added.
Out of Sweden’s Nordic neighbours, Finland and Denmark recommend the Covid-19 vaccine to everyone over the age of 12, and Norway generally only recommends it to over-18s (it has said a decision on whether to extend it to 16-17-year-olds will come in August).
The autumn semester starts in Sweden this week in most places, although the exact date varies depending on municipality.