Coronary vaccinations will inevitably progress in Finland.
But not evenly.
Various dips and disproportions can be found in vaccination statistics, curves and bars and percentages published by THL.
There is a natural explanation for them.
Currently, the statistics highlight the age group 70-74 years.
Their vaccination coverage causes a notch in the otherwise very evenly rising bar graph from left to right.
On the left are the younger, on the right the oldest age groups.
Read more: Antero, 72, from Tampere, missed the vaccination program
Why is the pit, Hanna Nohynek, THL's chief physician and secretary of the National Vaccination Expert Group?
- We have been asked a lot about this, Nohynek says.
- This is because we recommend the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine for people over 70 and AstraZeneca for people under 70.
- BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine doses have not been received as much as desired.
Vaccination of older age groups has been slower than expected.
- Now that the AstraZeneca vaccine has been received, younger age groups and medical risk groups will receive it.
- Here comes a less than a month of waiting for people over 70 years of age.
They will receive the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine when their older age groups have been vaccinated.
So we're coming from the top down there?
- Just like this.
- Vaccinations are usually called in five-year groups.
- Each area is a bit different and the municipalities know best how to apply the guide, says Hanna Nohynek, THL's chief physician. Photo: Juhani Niiranen
- The reason is therefore our recommendation that only BioNTech / Pfizer be given to people over the age of 70.
When the recommendation was made, there was enough information on the efficacy of this medicine in the elderly, we were still waiting for that information for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
According to Nohynek, different municipalities are advancing at different rates because the population bases are different.
- Initially, we sent vaccines to municipalities in relation to the estimated number of critical health professionals, and then in relation to the population base, ie the vaccines sent should be comparable to the proportion of people of different ages in the municipality.
- Unfortunately, now it is a situation ... or a good situation in the sense that we have received the AstraZeneca vaccine and have been able to start vaccinating medical risk groups.
- As a result, people aged 70-74 look like a group of interveners.
THL statistics show a clear drop in vaccination coverage in this age group when compared to older and younger.
Another mind-boggling question is the large differences between municipalities in how much of the first doses of the vaccine given in the municipality have been given to those over 80 years of age.
There are municipalities where the percentage is well over 60, but correspondingly municipalities where 20% are known.
For example: Punkalaidun 68%, Siikainen and Kuhmoinen 67%, and Veteli and Vöyri 66%.
But on the other hand: Enonkoski 18%, Pornainen 20%, Taipalsaari and Kontiolahti 23% and Aura 24%.
Read more: How many young people and people of working age have received the coroner vaccine in your home country - see exact figures by age group
What does this disparity tell us, Chief Medical Officer Hanna Nohynek?
- It is first of all that if the municipality has a small population and a small number of elderly people, the percentages are easily high.
- Secondly, this is due to the fact that when vaccination of older people over the age of 80 was initially introduced, at the same time, those health professionals who were identified by the municipality as critical actors on the basis of the THL guideline were vaccinated.
- Some municipalities vaccinated (them) very much.
- There have also been large regional differences in the interpretation of the guidelines, which have affected how quickly vaccination of the elderly began.
In a remote municipality, a pharmacist in a small pharmacy is responsible for the supply of medicines throughout a large area and is thus one of the critical persons, while in Helsinki, the illness of one pharmacist does not crash the system.
Nohynek recalls that the THL's recommendation was that frontline coronary patients or those taking samples be vaccinated at the same time as those over the age of 80 and those in nursing homes and cared for.
- In some municipalities, it was interpreted quite liberally, when vaccination was initially focused on vaccinating health professionals and vaccinating the elderly was a little slower.
- Other municipalities have again been very strict about who is counted as a critical soldier.
Couldn't THL have instructed more?
- Yes, we gave instructions, but it is not THL's job to give instructions in too much detail.
Each area is a little different and the municipalities know best how to apply the guide.
Nohynek gives an example.
- In a remote municipality, a pharmacist in a small pharmacy is responsible for the entire wide area of drug supply and thus belongs to critical people, while in Helsinki, the illness of one pharmacist does not overthrow the system, there are successors.
Helsinki started vaccinating medical staff on December 28.Photo: Rio Gandara
- Municipalities are ultimately responsible for how they organize vaccination in their own area in accordance with the Government Decree.
The chairman of the national vaccination expert group is Ville Peltola, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Turku.
In his e-mail reply, Peltola explains the plight of 70-74-year-olds in the same way as Nohynek.
- According to the vaccination schedule, Sote staff of working age and the elderly have been vaccinated in such a way that they progress downwards from the oldest.
- In addition, people aged 16 to 69 years who have been at high risk for 'other illness' have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
According to Peltola, the proportion of those vaccinated between the ages of 70 and 74 is small, because vaccinations for the elderly have not yet progressed to that age group.
According to Peltola, the fact that the proportion of vaccinated people over the age of 80 varies so much between municipalities is “at least partly” due to their share in the municipal population and the proportion of Sote workers entitled to vaccination in the municipal population.