Could final year high school students in Norway be given earlier Covid-19 vaccines?

Could final year high school students in Norway be given earlier Covid-19 vaccines?
A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19. (Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP)
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is considering vaccinating final-year 'russ' students in areas of high infection to try to help control the spread of Covid-19.

The health authority will look into the possibility of final year ‘russ’ students being vaccinated earlier due to the risk of virus transmission amongst young people, NIPH director of infection control Geir Bukholm told national newspaper VG.

Russ is considered a rite of passage in Norway and is a period between the end of April and May 17th where final year high school students party and celebrate for four weeks before their final exams.

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“It may at least be relevant to conclude with an assessment before that (russ). Not necessarily just because of the russ period, but in general to use the doses we have in the best possible way to control the spread of infection,” Bukholm said.

“We think it will be possible to make a recommendation before russ starts. We do not want to commit to a specific date right now, but in any case, we will make a recommendation before May 11th,” he added.

NIPH is scheduled to provide a new vaccine strategy to the government by May 11th.

The health authority hopes all young people are vaccinated before school and studies begin in the autumn.

“Young people move about a lot and meet a lot of people. They can become sources of infection. If we stop that, we can affect the spread of infection more and perhaps curb the epidemic,” NIPH senior medical advisor Preben Aavitsland told VG.

One advantage of moving young people ahead in the queue is that the spread of infection can be slowed down quicker by targeting areas with high infection rates, Aavitsland said, but noted prioritisation is a balancing act.

“The young do not have a high risk of serious illness. It is the middle-aged and the elderly who are at risk. If 40-50 year-olds have to wait longer, they can get more serious illness. That is the consideration which matters most and an assessment we must make,” the senior medical consultant said.


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