Society Cannot Be 'Held Hostage' by Unvaccinated, Finnish Health Boss Says

Finland plans to lift all its restrictions when the vaccination rate reaches 80 percent.

To convince the holdouts, numbering hundreds of thousands, to take the shot, COVID passports to be requested in all public places are being pondered.

Given the current state of vaccination in Finland, the country's Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has warned that the situation may escalate into an "epidemic of the unvaccinated".

As of today, there are an estimated 780,000 Finns over the age 12 who are yet to receive even a single dose of a COVID vaccine, resulting in a vaccination rate of about 60 percent. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin earlier said that the coronavirus restrictions will not be lifted until 80 percent of the 12-and-over population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

This begs the question of how the authorities plan to deal with the unvaccinated. For instance, fellow Nordic nation Denmark agreed to offer people a choice of vaccine in a bid to boost vaccination rates.

"It is important to discuss this in society so that we understand what is being done", THL chief physician and vaccinologist Hanna Nohynek told national broadcaster Yle. "There has been talk that vaccinated people cannot be held hostage by unvaccinated people."

This week, government plans to introduce COVID-19 passports for all Finnish residents aged 12 and over was reported.

According to the paper, the government plans to introduce the passport scheme at the beginning of October. It would apply to all Finnish residents over the age of 12. The passport would be required in all public places from restaurants and nightclubs to theme parks and playgrounds. The measure has been touted as short-lived, as all the restrictions are intended to be lifted as soon as the vaccination rate hits 80 percent.

While little is known about the backgrounds of those who've opted out of taking the shot due to a lack of extensive studies, THL figures have identified people in their mid-to-upper 20s as the most likely group to be completely unvaccinated.

Nohynek mused that their life situation may be the most likely reason, as finding time to vaccinate may be a problem for people."

People of that age live a hectic life. If vaccines are not brought to them, then they might not get the vaccine for logistical reasons" she pointed out, adding that no age group is 100 percent vaccinated. Even among the over-75 age demographic, which is deemed the most susceptible, the vaccination coverage is close to 95 percent.

Furthermore, THL's figures indicated that men are more likely to remain unvaccinated than women, which has been supported by studies in other countries.

"It is generally accepted that women are more likely to follow different health guidelines and men are more reluctant, on average", Nohynek said.

THL's vaccination figures additionally revealed that vaccine coverage seems to correlate with the population of a municipality. The smaller the municipality, the more likely it is that vaccination coverage will be lower than the national average. This was corroborated by an earlier Yle survey that concluded that people in rural areas were, on average, somewhat more reluctant to take vaccines than big city dwellers.So far, Finland, a nation of 5.5 million, has seen 135,000 COVID-19 cases, with 1,050 deaths.

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