Coronavirus vaccinations in Finland began on December 27, 2020 with the administering of a vaccine to six HUS employees.
Towards the end of the year, there was much uncertainty regarding the marketing authorizations and delivery timetables of coronavirus vaccines, but we nevertheless held on to our goal of beginning vaccinations without any undue delay.
Design and delivery of a vaccination program calls for collaboration by multiple parties at many levels. We partnered with the National Institute for Health and Welfare, other hospital districts in our Specific Catchment Area, the HUS Epidemiological Unit, municipalities in the area and private service providers to plan for the vaccination of the population and of social welfare and health care professionals in particular. Factors that we had to consider in designing the vaccination program included the availability of vaccines, the number of people in the vaccination target group and how to reach them, the number and availability of employees with the competence to administer vaccinations, infection-safe vaccination facilities, vaccination supplies and the transport of vaccines from HUS Pharmacy to the vaccination locations.
We also prepared for vaccinations of our own employees. Years of experience in deploying influenza vaccines to our personnel proved helpful in this respect. Planning coronavirus vaccinations for our personnel was complicated by the vaccinations being staggered according to job duties and by insufficient information on vaccine availability.
When personnel vaccinations began at the end of the year, the first in line in accordance with national directives were employees principally involved in the care of patients with diagnosed and suspected coronavirus infections (coronavirus facilities) and employees involved in coronavirus sampling and analytics.
HUS Logistics prepared for vaccinations well ahead of time, acquiring vaccination supplies for our own use and for member municipalities. HUS Pharmacy was in charge of distributing vaccines to municipalities. In addition to swift action, the guiding principles of our vaccination program are to ensure that no vaccines are wasted, that municipalities are distributed vaccines equitably despite starting at different times, and that vaccine availability in municipalities is predictable so that vaccination appointments already made would not have to be cancelled.
Coronavirus vaccination booking system for Uusimaa
Local authorities are responsible for implementing the national vaccination program, administering vaccinations to their residents and their social welfare and health care personnel. According to the directive circulated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, local authorities may cooperate with each other, with a hospital district or with other local operators such as occupational health care providers or the private sector.
At the beginning of December, we agreed with municipalities in Uusimaa that we will deliver a booking system for occupational health care appointments and vaccinations usable by all municipalities, coordinated by HUS IT Management. The general requirements for beginning vaccinations and the Government Decree giving detailed specifications on how to organize vaccinations were not published until just before vaccinations actually began. Because of this, the vaccination booking system had to be delivered with an exceptionally quick turnaround. The booking service, koronarokotusaika.fi, was delivered in a matter of weeks, and this was technically possible only because Uusimaa already had a similar self-service system in place for booking coronavirus tests.
The first to receive the coronavirus vaccine were (left to right): Kirsi Mustalammi, Markus Norrgård, Timo Suonsyrjä, Eija Koponen, Benny Hellqvist and Andrea Nummi.