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FEATURE

When can you expect to get the Covid-19 vaccine in Norway?

In what order does Norway plan to vaccinate its population, and when can foreign residents expect to be offered the jab?

When can you expect to get the Covid-19 vaccine in Norway?

One and a half months have passed since the first jab of a Covid-19 vaccine was administered in Norway. Since then, data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) shows that nearly 240,000 people have received the first dose of the vaccine, while nearly 74,000 have received the second dose.

Norway has chosen to pursue a strategy where elderly people and some selected health care workers have been given the vaccine first. And health authorities believe this is the reason why Norway is now seeing fewer Covid-19 related deaths and hospital admissions.

But when can other groups expect to receive their first jab of the vaccine and what rules apply for foreign nationals?

All residents in Norway, regardless of whether they are foreign nationals, are included in the government’s coronavirus vaccination strategy, according to NIPH.

The vaccine is free and voluntary for everyone who lives in Norway.

Municipalities have the responsibility for vaccinating their populations, including temporary residents. Information about vaccinations should be available on your municipality’s website.

The government’s strategy is based on five goals for the vaccine programme, ordered by level of importance:

  1. Reducing risk of death,
  2. Reducing risk of severe illness,
  3. Ensuring continued operation of essential services and crucial infrastructure,
  4. Protecting the labour force and economy,
  5. Easing restrictions and opening society.

After the oldest residents, the government has therefore chosen to prioritise people with other medical conditions that make them vulnerable to severe illness and death.

This is the current order of Norway’s vaccine queue:

  1. Care home residents and some health care workers,
  2. People over 85 years old and some health care workers,
  3. People between 75 and 84 years old,
  4. People between 65 and 74 years old and people between 18 and 64 years old with severe medical conditions that make them vulnerable to serious illness,
  5. People between 55 and 64 years old with underlying medical conditions,
  6. People between 45 and 54 years old with underlying medical conditions,
  7. People between 18 and 44 years old with underlying medical conditions,
  8. People between 55 and 64 years old,
  9. People between 45 and 54 years old,
  10. Rest of adult population.

NIPH has published several scenarios for when they believe the population will be offered the vaccine. In their moderate scenario, they expect the majority of the population to have been vaccinated by late summer.

READ ALSO: Three scenarios: When will life return to normal in Norway?

Care home residents, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, however, can expect to be vaccinated during spring. Healthy people between the ages of 18 and 64, meanwhile, may have to wait until the autumn.

But the situation remains uncertain and the rate of vaccinations depend on a number of factors, including how quickly Norway receives vaccine doses. Vaccine producer Moderna last week announced that its delivery to Norway was delayed by a week, and that the number of doses was halved from 43,000 to 21,600.

“I think we have to get use to the fact that vaccine deliveries will be unpredictable during the next few months,” Assistant Director Espen Rostrup Nakstad at the Norwegian Directorate of Health told newspaper Dagbladet.

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TRAVEL

Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany

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