Vaccination in the Arctic has begun

Fastlege i Bodø kommune, Kine Kalstad fikk den første Covid-vaksinen i Bodø av vaksinesjef Karin Wiik. (Foto: Trine Jonassen)
GP in Bodø municipality, Kine Kalstad (44) received the first Covid vaccine in Bodø from vaccine manager and health nurse Karin Snøve Wiik. Now it is the turn of the residents at the nursing homes. (Photo: Trine Jonassen)

After a year of lock downs, critical research and a devastating pandemic, inoculations has finally begun in the Arctic.

The vaccination process in most Arctic states has finally begun.

– Even if we can not relax yet, it feels good to be on our way, says community doctor in Bodø Municipality in North Norway, Kine Kalstad (44).

She made a little bit of history as the first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in the Arctic town of Bodø and was happy to be the first. If not for herself, then for all the vulnerable patients she sees daily.

– We can not afford essential health care workers to get put out of play, says Kalstad.

Health care workers first

Covid vaccination doses per capita. (Source: Our Word in data)
Covid vaccination doses per capita. (Source: Our Word in data)
Covid vaccination doses per capita. (Source: Our world in data)

In Norway, 20 percent of the vaccines against Covid-19 are marked essential health care workers. After this, inhabitants at health care institutions will follow in the first round.

In Alaska, USA, the first shipments of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccines arrived in mid-December. Supply is limited and most of the people who received the vaccine were hospital-based healthcare workers.

Alaskans over 65 will be able to get their first Covid-19 vaccinations starting this week, a timeline accelerated by state officials following a weekend of eligibility confusion.

Started i December

Iceland received the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine on December 28 and vaccination began the next day. Enough doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine for 14 000 people are expected to arrive by February 2021.

Canada has so far approved two vaccines — by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both vaccines require two doses a number of weeks apart for full efficacy.

Canadian Provinces have differed in their approaches to the vaccine — some have held back supply to ensure a second dose is available when the time comes, while others planned to administer all doses as soon as they’re available.

Now the elders

As of Sunday, Canada had administered 119 202 coronavirus vaccines across the country, according to Covid-19 Tracker Canada. That means 0.317 percent of the population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.Nunavut in Canada will give out its first Covid-19 vaccinations today to elders in Iqaluit.

Then vaccinations will be offered next week to residents in Gjoa Haven, Igloolik, Cambridge Bay and Arviat, in an effort to protect communities with long-term elder care facilities.

Russia has vaccinated more than one million people against Covid-19, the head of the country’s main vaccine developer said, as the country recorded its lowest infection rate for more than six months.

High burden in Sweden

The first coronavirus vaccine in Finland was granted conditional sales approval by the European Medicines Agency on December 21, 2020. Vaccinations with this mRNA vaccine began in the last week of December.

The Covid vaccine was first offered to social welfare and health care professionals who treat Covid-19 patients and those who work in care homes.

In Sweden, due to the high burden of care, the regions' vaccination against Covid-19 are prioritized for essential health care workers. But the vaccination will take place in parallel with the vaccination of residents and staff in the municipal care.

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Start to look forward

Public broadcaster the Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation (KNR) reported that 79-year-old Sofie Hegelund became the first Greenlander to receive the initial dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Nuuk. KNR reports that elderly Greenlanders and their caregivers are at the top of the list for priority inoculation.

Last week, Greenland received about 1 000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from Denmark for inoculation in Nuuk and Illulissat.

Back in Bodø, Kalstad sits still for the required 15 minutes to wait for any reactions. But she feels fine.

– I still have to wait for the second shot, and after that another week before the vaccine is in full effect. It is kind of exiting to take part in this so early and I trust the people who developed the vaccine, says the GP.

And as the mayor of Bodø, Ida Maria Pinnerød handed over flowers to Kalstad, she let out a small sigh behind the mask.

– Now we can start to look ahead.