From Monday 9 August, Finnish municipalities can legally start vaccinating all children aged 12–15 against the Covid-19 disease.
The Finnish government amended the decree on coronavirus vaccination on 5 August so that all those aged 12 or over may from now on be vaccinated in Finland. The decree will enter into force on Monday.
Before, only those children aged 12 to 15 who were at risk of severe coronavirus disease were offered the vaccine.
According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), municipalities will decide how to organize the vaccination of children. The vaccine doses can be administered as part of school health care or at coronavirus vaccination points where other people are also vaccinated.
However, THL admits in a statement that vaccination will not start immediately due to lack of practical arrangements. Although the legal change takes effect on Monday, the schemes are not yet decided and the municipalities will still need some time.
"Municipalities will inform people of when the vaccinations of all 12–15-year-olds will begin and where they can be vaccinated. In principle, vaccinations could start immediately on Monday, but the municipalities may require some time, of course, to make the practical arrangements," says Medical Specialist Anna Scherleitner from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
Pfizer and Moderna
The plan of the Finnish health authorities is to vaccinate children aged 12-15 years with the Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna vaccines. Both "are mRNA that provide good protection against coronavirus disease and excellent protection against its severe forms," says THL.
Research showed that the adverse vaccine effects experienced by young people are similar to those for adults. The most common side effects observed were mild and transient, such as pain and redness at the injection site, headaches and fever.
"One very rare adverse effect for recipients of an mRNA vaccine has been myocarditis or pericarditis, which are both heart conditions. Such cases have been observed especially in young men following their second vaccine dose, and the symptoms have started within 14 days of vaccination. The symptoms have in most cases been the same as in myocarditis in general and the patients have recovered well," THL says.
Minors can decide
Minors can decide for themselves if they want to receive a Covid-19 vaccines if a healthcare professional considers that they are able to make such decision.
There is no age limit in the law for the child's right to self-determination, which is why the matter is assessed on a case-by-case basis. This is also the case in Finland for other vaccines.
If the child is unable to make decisions on their care, the consent of the guardians is required for the vaccination decision. In these situations, the municipality arranging the vaccination requests such consent.