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COVID-19

Sweden updates Covid-19 testing and isolating rules for travellers

Everyone who enters Sweden from a country outside the Nordic region should continue to get tested for Covid-19 after arriving, after the Public Health Agency updated its recommendation.

Sweden updates Covid-19 testing and isolating rules for travellers
Testing is available at some airports in Sweden, like the booth at Arlanda pictured here. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT

Travellers who are not fully vaccinated and arrive from outside the Nordics (Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Finland) should avoid contact with others for one week after arriving (including, for example, not visiting shops, using public transport or having visitors to their home) and should take a test soon as possible after arriving.

This applies to both Swedish and foreign citizens, regardless of the reason for travel, although children under six and people who have received their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine at least two weeks before arrival in Sweden are exempt. However, even people who are fully vaccinated should get tested if they experience any symptoms of the virus – this applies regardless of whether they have recently been abroad.

A separate guideline for travellers from certain countries outside the EU to take a second test and isolate for one week on arrival was previously in place until August 31st, but has now been scrapped. This means that the same recommendations, to take one test on arrival and be “careful” about social contacts, now apply to all people who arrive in Sweden from outside the Nordic countries.

From September 1st, people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and recovered within the last six months are also exempt. The current guidelines are in place until at least October 31st.

“Several countries have a greater spread of infection than Sweden, and in contract tracing work we see that a relatively high proportion of Covid-19 cases are still linked to travel abroad,” the Public Health Agency’s deputy state epidemiologist Karin Tegmark Wisell said in a statement explaining why the testing recommendation had been extended.

Tests are free for people arriving in Sweden from overseas, and can be arranged by ordering one from 1177.se or using a drop-in centre. The 1177 website for your region (you can pick your region using the drop-down “välj region” menu at the top) should have more information, and Sweden’s larger airports also offer tests for some arriving passengers. The 1177 website for your region should also tell you how to book a test if you don’t normally live in Sweden and don’t have a Swedish personal ID number.

Unlike many countries but in line with Sweden’s strategy of using fewer legal restrictions, the recommendations to test and isolate are not legally enforced, but it is still not considered optional.

Even people who are exempt from taking the tests on arrival are still expected to be “careful” after travelling from overseas, according to the Public Health Agency. This includes paying close attention even to mild symptoms, keeping a distance from other people, and avoiding meeting people who belong to Covid-19 risk groups.

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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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