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COVID-19

Norway offers Johnson & Johnson vaccine to volunteers

Norway will offer the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine to volunteers under strict conditions, the government said Wednesday, flouting the advice of various health authorities who say the risks outweigh the benefits.

A close up photo of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP
A bottle of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Janssen Covid-19 vaccine awaits transfer into syringes for administering at a vaccine rollout targetting elderly people in Ronda on April 23, 2021. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

The Nordic country, which has dropped the AstraZeneca jab from its vaccination programme amid concerns about rare but severe blood clots, had also suspended the use of the J&J vaccine over similar concerns earlier this year.

But the government said on May 12 that it planned to offer the J&J single-dose jab to volunteers.

On Wednesday, it detailed the strict conditions that would apply to those who, after a medical consultation, want to be vaccinated with the J&J jab as of June 15.

Only certain categories of people will qualify, including those who need to travel to countries where the pandemic is raging, those who for various reasons cannot wait their turn to receive the other available vaccines, and those who have loved ones suffering from severe forms of cancer.

“The patient has the right to weigh in on the decision but cannot demand to receive the vaccine. Doctors will have the final say,” Health Minister Bent Høie told reporters at a press conference.

READ MORE: When will I receive my Covid-19 in vaccine in Norway 

Neighbouring Denmark has meanwhile reserved both the AstraZeneca and J&J inoculations for volunteers, even though both have been approved by the European medicines watchdog EMA and the World Health Organisation has recommended their use.

While Norway’s government has followed the main recommendations regarding the vaccines issued by a panel of experts in May, Wednesday’s announcement goes against the advice of several national institutions, such as the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Medical Association.

They have argued that the pandemic is under control in Norway and that the vaccination campaign is progressing quickly enough with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that the country doesn’t need to resort to other vaccines which may carry a risk of severe side effects.

“For the most part, the risk of side effects with the J&J vaccine will be greater than the benefits, given the current situation in Norway,” the head of the Directorate of Health, Bjørn Guldvog, told reporters.

Norway has one of the lowest Covid incidence rates in Europe, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

More than 1.85 million people in the country of 5.4 million have received a first vaccine dose and 1.21 million are fully vaccinated.

Authorities hope to have offered all adults their first dose by early August.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Explained: How to register foreign Covid-19 vaccines in Norway 

Did you know that you can get coronavirus vaccines taken abroad added to your Norwegian Covid certificate? Here’s how. 

Explained: How to register foreign Covid-19 vaccines in Norway 
Here's how you can add a Covid-19 vaccine taken abroad added to your Norwegian Covid certificate. Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Residents in Norway can get vaccines taken in other countries registered in Norway and have them added to their Norwegian Covid certificate. 

This comes with a number of perks, such as being able to skip quarantine on your return to Norway if you are fully vaccinated, travelling freely to countries that accept EU Covid passes and attending events such as concerts that require a Covid certificate without having to test. 

It can, in most cases, also be a relatively straightforward process. Below we’ll talk you through everything you need to know. 

Who can register a foreign vaccine? 

Pretty much anyone who has an identity number, either a Norwegian national identity number or a D-Number, can register a European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved Covid-19 vaccine that’s been administered outside of Norway. 

For practical reasons, you will need to have a level-four form of electronic ID to log into helsenorge.no, Norway’s digital health portal, when you wish to access your Covid certificate, so this is worth bearing in mind also. 

You can take a look at our guide to e-IDs in Norway here

Which vaccines are you able to register? 

You are currently only able to add EMA approved coronavirus vaccines taken in other countries to your Norwegian Covid certificate. 

These are currently Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson single-use Janssen vaccine.

This means that if you are planning on getting a jab in a country that offers vaccines that aren’t EMA approved as part of its inoculation program, you should prioritise getting a jab you will be able to add to your Norwegian Covid certificate. 

For those vaccinated in the UK it is unclear whether batches of AstraZeneca produced in the UK are included in this. The Local has contacted the Ministry of Health to confirm what applies to those who have received these batches. 

How do you register the vaccines? 

To add a foreign vaccine to your Covid-19 certificate with the Norwegian Immunisation Registry, SYSVAK, you will need to have your proof of vaccination verified by a medical professional. This can be a general practitioner, municipal health services, or a private healthcare provider. 

The vaccination certificate will need to contain the name of the vaccine, vaccination site, date and batch number of the vaccine.

In terms of proof, you can use either written documentation of vaccination or a Covid-19 certificate that has been issued in the EU or EEA. Some vaccine cards or certificates come with all this information included, so that may be sufficient proof. If not, you may need written proof from a medical professional in the country where the vaccine was issued that contains all the relevant information. 

Then you will need to request either an in-person consultation or a video one if you aren’t currently in Norway. 

This will cost around 160 kroner if you are seeing your regular doctor. If you cannot get an appointment and want to speed up the process, you can use a private provider such as Dr.Dropin or Volvat. The price of a private provider will range from 350 kroner to 1,300 kroner depending on who you choose.

How long will it take for them to be registered? 

According to helsenorge.no, the jabs are typically added to the all-important vaccine certificate within 24 hours. 

Anecdotally, some people have reported that it can take up to a few days before the vaccine is added to the certificate. 

This means that if you are planning on getting a foreign vaccine registered before returning to Norway to skip quarantine and testing, you should give yourself ample time. This isn’t just if the vaccine takes longer than expected to appear on your certificate, but also in case the information is wrong and needs updating. 

One last thing worth remembering is that you aren’t considered fully vaccinated in Norway until a week after your final jab. 

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