Half of Swedish adults have received a Covid-19 vaccine pass

Eight million Covid vaccine passes have been issued to 4.5 million Swedish residents so far, the e-Health Agency reports. This means that around half of Sweden's adult population have accessed the service.

a man checks a vaccine pass in Sweden
Vaccine passes have been required at indoor events of over 100 attendees, like film showings in cinemas, since December 1st. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The e-Health Agency is responsible for issuing Swedish vaccine passes, which have been required at some indoor events with over 100 guests since December 1st.

The agency’s spokesperson Jan Pettersson told newswire TT that there are a number of possible explanations for the high number of issued vaccine passes compared to how many people have received one.

“Some people may have ordered a vaccine pass earlier during the summer, which may no longer be valid. Or maybe they just forgot where they saved it. You can download a pass really quickly,” he said.

Passes issued before October 1st were only valid for three months – since then, they have been valid for six months.

Downloading a vaccine pass from is usually quick and easy, unless you don’t have a Swedish e-ID like BankID, meaning you have to apply via post.

“Right now there’s extremely high pressure. You’ll have to wait at least a few weeks,” warned Pettersson.

Some groups are also still excluded from the vaccine pass system, despite being fully vaccinated. This includes people who were vaccinated abroad, as well as people vaccinated in Sweden who were vaccinated under a temporary reservnummer.

The Local has covered this issue in a series of articles since the passes launched on July 1st, although at the time Sweden only used them for exemptions to border restrictions. 

In October the government ordered the e-Health Agency to develop a system by the end of 2021 that would enable them to issue the Covid vaccine passes to people who are based in Sweden and are fully vaccinated, but are currently unable to get a certificate to prove it.

A spokesperson for the Health Ministry told The Local at the end of November that the e-Health Agency now has the “technical solution” for this ready, but authorities are still working on ironing out legal details which are needed for healthcare administrators to report vaccines for these groups to the right databases.

“The work is ongoing with the goal of being able to start using the solution from January 1st 2022,” the spokesperson confirmed in an email.

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Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.”