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Denmark announces it is temporarily pausing its COVID vaccination campaign

Walter Litterscheidt / EyeEm / Getty Images

(COPENHAGEN, Denmark) — Denmark is the first country to announce it is temporarily stopping its COVID-19 vaccination program due to high rates of immunization and falling infection numbers.

In a statement, the country’s National Board of Health said it would not be issuing invitations to citizens to get vaccinated after May 15.

Health officials said the country, which was the first in the European Union to lift mitigation measures in February, “is in a good place” following the omicron wave.

The Danish Health Authority on Thursday announced additional measures easing COVID restrictions in the country, including the easing of mask rules in healthcare, elderly care or in parts of the social sector. Patients admitted to hospitals will only be tested if they are exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

Data from the Danish Health Authority shows that, as of April 20, 89% of those in Denmark aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated and 76% have received a booster. About 37% of those aged 5 to 11 are also fully vaccinated.

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“Spring has come and we have good control of the epidemic, which seems to be subsiding,” Bolette Søborg, director of the department of preparedness and infectious diseases at the DHA, said in a statement. “Admission rates are stable, and we also expect them to fall soon. Therefore, we are rounding up the mass vaccination program against COVID-19.”

Danish health authorities said people can still get vaccinated over the spring and summer if they want to, with Søborg highlighting the increased risk for serious COVID complications in unvaccinated people over age 40 or who are pregnant.

Additionally, a second booster is being offered to those who are immunocompromised or at high risk of severe disease.

COVID-19 cases and deaths have been trending downward since the end of the omicron wave. Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show Denmark recorded 1,484 new infections Tuesday, a 65% decrease from the 4,322 recorded one month ago. New deaths also fell 73% over the same period from 41 to 11.

However, Danish health authorities said the vaccination program will resume in the fall, when COVID-19 cases are expected to increase.

“The Danish Health and Medicines Authority’s assessment is that there will probably be a need to vaccinate against COVID-19 again in the autumn,” the release read. “This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 is an unstable virus that can mutate, just as we saw with the omicron variant.”

Denmark’s decision to halt its vaccination campaign comes as countries around the world have had vastly different responses to the pandemic in recent weeks.

Most European countries and the United States have lifted COVID-19 restrictions while China has implemented lockdown measures in its two largest cities — Beijing and Shanghai — following outbreaks of the virus.

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