Danes vaccinate with military precision, ‘before summer’

Denmark is one of the absolute frontrunners when it comes to vaccination. According to the latest figures, over 6% of Danes have now received a vaccination, in the Netherlands it is just over 3%. If more vaccines had been available in Denmark, many more people would have been vaccinated.

Pharmaceuticals fill the syringes

The Danes want to be ready before the summer, so it‘s all hands on deck. Pediatrician Sven Mortensen had just retired. But when he read that there was a shortage of staff, he didn’t change his mind for a second.

โ€œ People have never been so happy to visit me,โ€ he says. Mortensen works at a vaccination centre in the city of Odense, responsible for the Southern Denmark region. The former nursing training institute was converted into a new vaccination centre. They can poke five thousand people per day.

In the corridors there are separation panels that mark small vaccination boxes. The pharmaceuticals are also there, an idea of Mortensen. โ€œIn the beginning, the pharmacy next door filled the syringes, but that was too slow. People were waiting, and those poor pharmacists knew they were the bottleneck. Now that the pharmaceuticals are filling the syringes, it runs much smoother.โ€

Military precision

The pioneering spirit signs the Danish approach. โ€œAs a pediatrician, I had to deal with an awful lot of bureaucracy, which is now completely gone,โ€ says Mortensen. โ€œEveryone has good ideas to guide people through the system as easily and quickly as possible.โ€

The pioneering spirit is accompanied by a planning of military precision. โ€œWhen people are vaccinated, they end up in a large observation room,โ€ says Sigurd Broesby-Osen, head physician and leader of the Odense vaccination centre.

There are green signs with the text: โ€œ15 minutes, no more and no lessโ€, the time when people have to sit after vaccination. โ€œNot less than 15 minutes, because we need to be able to see if people get an allergic reaction. But no longer because otherwise it gets stuck.โ€

A doctor for every nursing home

In the observation room there is a mix of young and old. Residents from nursing homes have all received their second shot. Now it is the turn of those over 85 people, hospital and care staff and Danes with chronic illness.

Mortensen scans the person card of Tove Pedersen, before 85, who receives a second vaccination. โ€œCan I walk back the same way,โ€ she asks. โ€œNo, that‘s not allowed,โ€ says the doctor. โ€œWe have tightened that up today. You get imprisonment, fines and everything else.โ€ Pedersen should laugh: โ€œI don’t want to be in prison.โ€

The Danish vaccination plan is the result of careful preparation. The first shot was made on December 27. But the preparation began two months before that. โ€œFirst a month for the content and the order of pricking. Then a month for the logistical part,โ€ says Jonatan Schloss, head physician and member of the National Vaccination Task Force.

Schloss: โ€œOn December 15, a doctor was ready to vaccinate for every nursing home in Denmark. All residents were also informed. So when we got the message that the vaccines were on their way, everyone was ready to go.โ€

โ€œSex is good and healthy.โ€

There is much consultation in Denmark, but no discussion about who is in charge. That‘s the Danish RIVM. โ€œEssential,โ€ says Schloss. โ€œIn the event of a shortage of vaccines, you also get a fight in Denmark who’s first turn. Then there must be clear guidelines.โ€

The head of the Danish RIVM, Sรธren Brostrรธm, plays a leading role and has gained enormous popularity over the past year. That started at the beginning of the coronacrisis when he put a heart under the belt of singles.

โ€œ Sex is good and healthy. As with any human contact, there is a risk of infection. But of course you need to be able to have sex in this situation,โ€ he said. That message went viral. It led to a cult status for Brostrรธm among young people.

The popular Sรธren Brostrรธm was asked for a nationwide humorous campaign that calls on young people to follow the rules.

According to the timetable, Danes are ready to vaccinate before the summer. โ€œThat will also depend on the different mutations,โ€ says head physician Broesby-Olsen. โ€œBut the expectation is that the combination of the Danish vaccination plan and the lockdown means that we can get back to life before the summer.โ€