Denmark Aims to End COVID Vaccine Campaign, Won't Give Boosters to Children

Denmark is considering scaling back the country's vaccination program in the coming months, and health authorities also say they see no reason to give children booster shots as the latest coronavirus surge begins to subside.

The Danish Health Authority said Friday the reason for dialing back the program was that Europe's third infection wave from the fast-spreading Omicron variant has subsided "due to the large population immunity." The agency said in a statement it is looking at "winding down the entire general vaccination program later in the spring," the Associated Press reported.

As virus infection rates were soaring last year in Europe when the Delta variant was the dominant strain, Danish health authorities were concerned that children could infect adults. So this past November the country expanded its vaccination program to include children between 5 and 11. Authorities also considered a booster shot for children, as well as a fourth shot for older adults and other vulnerable citizens amid last month's Omicron wave.

But on Friday, the health authorities said that there was no need for children to get a booster shot and that they "plan to round off the current vaccination program for all target groups, including the program for children aged 5-11."

The authorities also said the fourth shot would no longer be necessary because adults with three shots had high protection, including people over 85 and residents of nursing homes.

"The very high vaccine coverage in Denmark, especially with the third shot, means that we can cope with increasing infection without getting serious illness," the health authority said in its statement.

Earlier this month, the agency said the virus was not considered "a critical threat" and ended most of its restrictions. Authorities said hospitalization rates remained low during the Omicron surge in Denmark, which was averaging roughly 50,000 new cases per day.

"With Omicron not being a severe disease for the vaccinated, we believe it is reasonable to lift restrictions," Lone Simonsen of the University of Roskilde told Agence France-Presse.

In Denmark, more than 80 percent of the population has received two shots of the vaccine, while over 60 percent received the booster, according to official figures reported by the AP.

Denmark recently reported a drop in new weekly cases. The health authority said it will "follow the epidemic closely, and we are ready to change our [decisions] if, contrary to expectations, there is a fourth spring wave or new worrying variants this spring."

Update 02/11/2022, 10:40 a.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.

Denmark Scales Back COVID Vaccines
Health authorities in Denmark said Friday they are considering "winding down" the country's coronavirus vaccination program in the spring. Above, customers at a fish market in Copenhagen on February 1. Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix/AP Photo