Sweden offers 3rd COVID shot to elderly, health care staff

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FILE – In this Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021 file photo, a member of the nursing staff prepares for patients to receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, in the Blue Hall of the Stockholm City Hall, in Stockholm, Sweden. Sweden, which has stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic, has announced that it will be offering a third shot to people 65 and older as well as health care and nursing home workers.  Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 that 1.5 million Swedes will receive a booster dose six months after the second vaccine shot. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP, File)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden, which has stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic, announced Wednesday it will be offering a third vaccine shot to people 65 and over as well as to health care workers and nursing home staff.

Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said 1.5 million Swedes will receive a booster dose six months after their second vaccine shot. Johan Carlson, head of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, added that everyone down to age 16 will eventually be offered a third jab.

Sweden has not gone into a lockdown or closed businesses, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections. On Tuesday the country surpassed 15,000 virus-related deaths.

In neighboring Denmark, a third coronavirus vaccine shot has been offered to the elderly, heath care and nursing home staff and people who are particularly at increased risk.

Norway is recommending residents 65 and over get a booster dose at least six months after the second vaccine shot.

Norway has seen new infections rising. In the last 24 hours, it reported 1,144 new COVID-19 cases, which is close to double the amount from a week ago.

“If there is a large increase in the spread of infection locally or nationally, which places a high burden on the health services, the municipalities must be prepared to limit the spread of infection through local measures. It may also be relevant to introduce national measures,” said Norwegian Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol.

The city of Tromsoe in northern Norway saw new 59 cases in the last day, a local record.

“The wave of infection comes here first and we do not know why,” Trond Brattland, chief infection control doctor of the largest city in Arctic Norway, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

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