As explained by Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the current assessment is that it is not possible to eradicate the virus, which is why vaccination work should be long-term and focused on reducing serious illness and death.
In 2022, a large share of the Swedish population is likely be offered a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, whereas some risk groups may receive a third dose as early as this autumn, the Swedish Public Health Agency said, estimating that the supply of the vaccines will be good for a long time to come.
However, the extent of the re-inoculation process remains currently unclear and depends, among other things, on the arrival of new virus strains and the efficacy of vaccines over time. The Swedish Public Health Agency said it monitors the development in countries whose vaccination campaigns are ahead of Sweden’s. In recent weeks, Israel and Iceland saw upticks in infection rates, despite having vaccinated most of their adult populations.
The Swedish Public Health Agency estimated that the broad vaccination of the country’s adult population will be completed in the autumn of 2021. Subsequently, shots will be offered to 16-17-year-olds and adults, who have so far declined inoculation.
The re-inoculation campaign will start in the autumn as well, targeting primarily elderly home residents, people aged 80 and over and people with severely compromised immune systems.
“The assessment is that it is not possible to eradicate the virus and therefore vaccination work should be long-term and focused on reducing serious illness and death. It is still important that we have a special focus on the vaccination of groups and residents in geographical areas with low vaccination coverage,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said in a statement.
According to the Swedish Public Health Agency, in the next few years, vaccinations against COVID-19 will be carried out with one or two mRNA vaccines and possibly an adjuvanted protein-based vaccine functioning as a complement.
Sweden’s four-stage plan involves mass vaccination of the adult population, reaching groups with a low vaccination rate, providing a larger part of the population with a refill dose, and, finally, developing a long-term vaccination programme.
Previously, researchers and politicians have warned that COVID-19 is here to stay, envisaging long-term re-vaccination campaigns. Among others, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen ventured that vaccinations will be needed “over and over again”.
Currently, several nations, including Sweden’s neighbours Norway and Finland, are eyeing the possibility of administering booster shots to the population.