News story | Date: 21/01/2021
The elderly in nursing homes and residential care homes are prioritised for COVID-19 vaccine in Norway. The majority of those vaccinated are elderly people, often with severe underlying diseases.
"We have to bear in mind that most of those living in nursing homes have severe underlying conditions or are in the last stages of life", says Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services.
On average, more than 300 elderly die in Norwegian nursing homes every week.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency reports that there have been 23 deaths reported among vaccinated elderly in nursing homes. The deaths occurred within a week following vaccination.
"The reported deaths are among elderly, very frail patients and nursing home residents in the end-of-life phase. This does not give cause for concern for the safety of the vaccine", says Høie.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) states that fatal incidents among these severely frail patients following vaccination do not imply a causal relationship between COVID-19 vaccination and death. They cannot exclude that common side effects may have led to a more severe course for some patients.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health are now carrying out in-depth analyses. So far, there are no statistical analyses that indicate that coronavirus vaccination has had an increased risk of death among those vaccinated.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), in collaboration with the Regional Medicine Information and Pharmacovigilance Centres (RELIS), processes reports of suspected side effects after coronavirus vaccination on behalf of the Norwegian Medicines Agency.
About monitoring of side effects in Norway
In Norway, healthcare professionals and the public can report suspected side effects electronically. All reports, regardless of source, are registered in the same database, giving the Norwegian health authorities a rapid and good overview of all reported incidents.
"It is important to highlight that the threshold to report side effects in Norway is low. Healthcare professionals have a duty to report serious or unexpected reactions that they suspect may be due to the vaccine. The public can also submit notifications via the official health website helsenorge.no", says Høie.
The Norwegian health authorities also closely monitor the side effects of coronavirus vaccines and other medicines reported in other countries.