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Covid-19 shots are not banned in Iceland

Covid-19 shots are not banned in Iceland - Featured image

Author(s): Gwen Roley / AFP Canada

Iceland is not planning on vaccinating its entire population against the coronavirus this year, but claims that the jabs have been outlawed in the country are false. The Icelandic Directorate of Health said it is still providing Covid-19 vaccines and recommending the shots to certain high-risk groups, a move aligned with World Health Organization guidelines.

“Alert: Iceland Bans Covid Shots amid Soaring Sudden Deaths. It’s clear now,” says the text of a November 26, 2023 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, from Jim Ferguson, a one-time candidate for British Parliament with the Brexit Party.

The post included a link to a November 25 Evol News article that claims Iceland had discontinued Covid-19 shots.

AFP has previously fact-checked Ferguson for spreading misinformation, but screenshots of his post and the Evol News article spread across Facebook, TikTok and Instagram, receiving thousands of views and likes.

Screenshot of an X post, taken December 1, 2023

The Evol News text claims that Sasha Latypova, a blogger vocal about her opposition to vaccines, had received information that Iceland had recalled the coronavirus vaccines after attending a conference discussing “health sovereignty” in Reykjavik. In a November 20 post on Substack, she pointed to an Icelandic newspaper article, saying it reported that Covid-19 vaccines will be stopped.

However, no such announcement of discontinuation can be found on the website of the Icelandic Directorate of Health (archived here), which told AFP in a December 1 email that Covid-19 shots are still being provided in the country.

“There is no truth to these claims,” said Kjartan Hreinn Njalsson, the assistant to the Director of Health. “Iceland has not banned Covid-19 vaccines and there are no soaring sudden deaths either.”

Iceland’s vaccine approach

Njalsson said that while Covid-19 shots are still being offered, there are no immediate plans to vaccinate the entire population this fall and winter. He said the jabs are still being recommended to high-risk groups, such as the elderly, the immunocompromised and healthcare workers.

Njalsson said the country is using the most recent update of the Comirnaty XBB 1.5 vaccine from Pfizer.

“We’ve scaled down purchases and aim to utilize vaccines for individuals who genuinely benefit from repeated vaccination according to the available literature, focusing on their health needs rather than vaccinating healthy individuals,” Njalsson said.

He clarified that if healthy adults require shots, vaccination of additional groups should be feasible.

Screenshot of an Evol News article, taken December 1, 2023
Screenshot of a Facebook post, taken December 1, 2023

Iceland’s approach to annual vaccination echoes the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation (archived here) that adults under the age of 50 or 60 years old (depending on the country) without underlying medical issues do not need to pursue booster shots after the original course of vaccination, although this advice may vary depending on conditions in individual countries.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s Vaccine Tracker, over 80 percent of the general population in Iceland has received at least two doses of the coronavirus vaccine (archived here) and Iceland’s own data puts the figure at 82 percent (archived here).

Vaccine benefits remain

AFP has previously fact-checked unsupported claims of sudden deaths following vaccination in other countries.

While vaccines can have side effects, physicians have consistently stated that the benefits of receiving the Covid-19 shots outweigh the risks of severe illness and death.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Canada continue to recommend healthy adults pursue an updated vaccine after they have received the original course of Covid-19 vaccination (archived here and here). Booster shots are recommended for high-risk groups by WHO, the CDC and Health Canada.

Read more of AFP’s reporting on misinformation concerning Covid-19 here.

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Originally published here.