Norway’s prime minister gets COVID-19 vaccine as it speeds up its vaccinations

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has received her first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, her office said on Monday.

Four other cabinet ministers were also vaccinated, all receiving the vaccine produced by Moderna, the office said in a statement.

“I hope everyone who is offered a vaccine will accept it. Vaccination will eventually allow us to reclaim the everyday life we all long for,” said Solberg, who is 60 years old.

The prime minister is due to attend a NATO summit in June, and the military alliance has recommended that all participants should vaccinate ahead of time, her office said.

Norway’s ministers of foreign affairs, industry, defence and international development were all vaccinated on Monday. In addition, a further five people from Solberg’s staff, including security personnel, received the shot.

Norway said on Friday it will extend the time between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 12 from six weeks for most adults under the age of 65 in order to reach its first vaccination target sooner than planned.

The decision could allow all adults in Norway to receive a first jab by July 25 the Institute of Public Health (FHI) and health ministry said in a statement.

The extension relates to both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are the only ones currently used in Norway.

Norway’s FHI had previously estimated that all adults would be offered their first dose by Aug 29.

“Increasing the interval will allow many more to be vaccinated earlier. This will prevent serious illness and death, and reduce the overall level of infection in society,” Health Minister Bent Hoeie said.

Studies have shown that the difference in effect from extending the interval at which the two doses are given is minimal, the ministry added.

If Norway decides to also use COVID-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, this could speed up the process further.

Norwegian authorities last month suspended the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a small number of younger, inoculated people were hospitalised for a combination of blood clots, bleeding and a low count of platelets.

Some later died.

A decision on whether to use Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is on hold over similar concerns and a government-appointed commission is due to advise on the potential use of both vaccines by May 10.

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