Norway to redistribute Covid-19 vaccine doses to local areas

Norway to redistribute Covid-19 vaccine doses to local areas
A nurse filling a syringe with the Pfizer vaccine. THOMAS LOHNES / AFP
Norway will give more vaccines to Eastern Norway with municipalities in the rest of the country giving up some of their jabs, the government announced on Wednesday evening.

The announcement was made at a government press conference. Health minister Bent Høie said that he doesn’t expect the re-allocation of doses to slow down the country’s vaccination efforts. 

Government is aiming to offer everybody a vaccine by the end of July. 

“Vaccination will not stop anywhere, but will happen faster in the municipalities being prioritised,” Høie said at the press conference.

The redistribution will begin in the second week of June, and the allocation of extra vaccines will go to municipalities in Eastern Norway.

Høie said that the whole country would benefit from the vaccines being redistributed to the regions and that the decision would speed up the lifting of restrictions.

The extra vaccines will be provided by diverting doses from other municipalities. 

READ ALSO: Norway sees Covid infections fall as R-rate rises 

The following municipalities will receive extra doses: 

Lørenskog, Rælingen, Ullensaker, Sarpsborg, Enebakk, Oslo, Lillestrøm, Drammen, Nordre Follo, Fredrikstad, Nannestad, Bærum, Lier, Skien, Eidsvoll, Ås, Vestby, Nittedal, Råde, Indre Østfold, Rakkestad, Asker, Halden and Nesodden. 

Oslo, Sarpsborg, Fredrikstad and Lørenskog will receive around 40 percent more doses. The rest will receive around 60 percent more doses than originally planned until everyone over 18 has been offered a vaccine. 

Oslo, Sarpsborg, Fredrikstad and Lørenskog are receiving a smaller proportion of inoculations than the other municipalities because these areas have already previously had vaccines redistributed to them. 

Høie also said that the list was set in stone and wouldn’t be altered.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) picked the municipalities based on a model that considered the risk of infection, risk of hospital admission and progress in the vaccination program. 

Municipalities giving up their doses to priority areas will attempt to prevent any delay in their local vaccination efforts by offering more vaccines during the summer holidays. 

So far, 166 municipalities have informed the Norwegian Directorate of Health that they will be able to offer an accelerated vaccine plan during the holidays, while 56 are not sure this will be possible.

23 municipalities will be exempt from having their vaccine allowances reallocated, these are: 

Aurskog-Høland, Bamble, Bergen, Frogn, Færder, Gjerdrum, Holmestrand, Horten, Hurdal, Kongsberg, Kristiansand, Lunner, Marker, Moss, Nes, Porsgrunn, Ringerike, Sandefjord, Skiptvet, Stavanger, Trondheim, Tønsberg and Øvre Eiker. 

All in all, 309 municipalities across Norway will have their doses reallocated; they will receive around 35 percent fewer doses than initially anticipated. 

‘Slap in the face’

Some municipalities that will have to give up vaccine doses have hit out the government’s decision to give their vaccines to other areas. 

“It feels like a slap in the face to everyone in our municipality. This was not necessary,” Stanley Wirak, mayor of Sandnes in Western Norway, told broadcaster TV2

“We have done everything right (in regards to handling the pandemic), but instead of government showing us they appreciate our effort, they do this. It’s a shame,” Wirak added. 

Larvik, in southeast Norway, has recently seen a surge in infections and is registering record numbers of cases. Nevertheless, it will be among the municipalities receiving fewer jabs. 

Mayor Erik Bringedal said he is surprised that Larvik is one of the municipalities to give its vaccines away.

“Firstly, the spread of infection in Larvik is quite large at the moment. Secondly, all our neighbouring municipalities are among the 23 municipalities that don’t have to give up any doses,” Bringedal said. 

In the north, 14 municipalities signed a petition stating that they believe the redistribution of vaccines would lead to major problems in their municipalities. 

Trømso Municipality doubts whether it will have the necessary resources to carry out the extra vaccination required in the summer to keep its vaccination plan on track. 

“There is a significant danger that the redistribution will lead to a delay, meaning we will have to vaccinate throughout August,” Trond Brattland, head of Trømso municipality, told VG


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