Danish nursing home residents may have to take fourth jab

The Danish elderly were among the first to receive their first booster shot last autumn. However, the number of deaths in nursing homes has risen in recent weeks, figures from the National Serum Institute showed. [Shutterstock / Galina Sharapova]

The elderly and residents of Denmark’s nursing homes may have to prepare to receive a fourth COVID-19 dose, Søren Brostrøm, director of the Danish Health Authority said this week.

The Danish elderly were among the first to receive their first booster shot last autumn. However, the number of deaths in nursing homes has risen in recent weeks, figures from the National Serum Institute showed.

The number of COVID deaths shot up to 33 in the first week of 2022. Danish authorities are now mulling the introduction of a fourth vaccine for the elderly and nursing homes residents.

But Henrik Nielsen, a professor, senior physician and expert in infectious diseases at Aalborg University, says it is difficult to see the necessity of a fourth shot.

“It is difficult to answer. I would prefer to have more experience of how antibody levels were in older people three to six months after the third shot. But that’s hardly happened yet,” he said.

“At the moment, such a decision is based more on hope than on knowledge,” Nielsen added.

However, Allan Randrup Thomsen, professor at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen, favours a fourth shot.

“We have a problem with infection in nursing homes, and we also see that some residents die, and therefore it would be appropriate to give them a fourth shot,” he said.

With Denmark now opening up more, this will lead to more infections and to greater risk of COVID-19 making its way into even more of the country’s nursing homes, he added.

“I would say that ethically and morally we cannot wait until we have the evidence. In the case of epidemics, you have to think ahead, and that is why I think it is reasonable to give a fourth jab on the basis of the knowledge we have at the moment,” he added.

(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)

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