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Denmark offers AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to volunteers

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By Euronews
Denmark was the first country in Europe to abandon AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine.
Denmark was the first country in Europe to abandon AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine.   -   Copyright  Olivier Chassignole, Pool via AP, File
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Danish citizens can volunteer to receive COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, health officials said.

Denmark was the first country in Europe to drop both jabs over fears of extremely rare blood clots, despite approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

But authorities are now offering both vaccines to citizens who volunteer under an "optional scheme" and contact the providers privately.

"The population will now have the opportunity to be vaccinated with the vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which are not included in the general Danish vaccination programme," Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said in a statement.

"It will soon be a real opportunity for the individual citizen to choose a faster vaccination than one [they] will be able to get through the vaccination programme."

Denmark's National Agency opted against using the AstraZeneca vaccine in April after suspending the jab in March, considering that the country's health crisis was under control.

According to official figures, nearly `19% of Danes are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and nearly 30% have received the first dose.

Denmark currently uses just two vaccines in its programme - those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

But younger citizens aged between 25 and 39 years - who are last in line to receive a vaccine - can now opt into the scheme which came into force on Thursday.

Adult citizens will have to meet with a doctor and give their explicit consent to receive either the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson jabs.

Bolette Søborg, unit manager at the Danish National Board of Health, said in a statement that doctors have a "special obligation" to inform citizens before prescribing the vaccines. Authorities have reiterated that the side effects of the vaccines are "rare but serious".

Denmark's Health Ministry said they expect the first consultations and vaccinations under this scheme will take place "in a very short time".

Last month, Denmark announced that it was loaning 55,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

A number of other European countries had also expressed interest in purchasing Denmark's unwanted jabs.

Additional sources • DPA