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How do mRNA vaccines work?
Two of the approved coronavirus vaccines Comirnaty (BioNTech/Pfizer) and Spikevax (previously COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna) are known as mRNA vaccines.
The vaccines contains the recipe (messenger RNA) for the characteristic spikes on the coronavirus encased in small fat bubbles. The body uses this recipe to make harmless copies of these spikes for the immune system to practise on. In this way, the immune system learns to recognise the coronavirus spikes and can defend the body if it becomes infected with the virus.
The messenger RNA is rapidly broken down by the body and has no effect on genetic material.
In addition, the vaccines contain substances to keep them stable during production, storage and transport, as well as to provide the right pH, which is important for reducing pain during injection. These substances are water, salts and sugar.
The vaccines do not contain live virus and do not cause COVID-19 disease. The coronavirus vaccines act to prevent disease. They cannot cure an ongoing illness.
Antibiotics are not used in the production process, so the vaccines do not contain antibiotics or antibiotic residues.
The vaccines do not contain adjuvants, which are substances that are added to some vaccines to increase the immune system's response. The vaccines do not contain products derived from pigs. The vaccines do not contain mercury.
More information about mRNA vaccines:
- Vaccine against coronavirus - Comirnaty (BioNTech and Pfizer)
- Vaccine against coronavirus - Spikevax (previously COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna
Vaccination with two different coronavirus vaccines
The coronavirus immunisation programme in Norway uses the two mRNA vaccines from BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna (see above). Two doses are needed to get the best possible protection. Since the goal is to achieve protection for many people as soon as possible, some people will be offered a combination of the two coronavirus vaccines.
The vaccines are based on the same technology. They are very similar in how they are constructed and work. In situations where it is difficult to offer both doses with the same vaccine, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends combining the two vaccines. A similar combination of coronavirus vaccines is used in several countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.
It is expected that there will be equally good protection from vaccines given in combination as when both doses are given with the same vaccine. Studies about this are ongoing. Combinations of different vaccines are also used for other diseases.
Both vaccines have slightly more pronounced side effects after the second dose than after the first dose. The Spikevax vaccine (Moderna) can cause slightly more and stronger side effects than the Comirnaty vaccine (BioNTech / Pfizer). This applies to common but short-term side effects such as pain and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle / joint pain and fever. This usually passes within a few days.
The solutions used for appointments vary between municipalities. In some places, drop-in vaccination is available without the need for an appointment. Check your municipality's website for information about the local arrangements.
Do not turn up for vaccination if, on the day:
- you have cold symptoms, fever over 38 °C or other symptoms of an infectious disease
- are in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 disease
- you have received another vaccine within the last 7 days
- it has been less than 3 months since you ended your isolation period after coronavirus disease (SARS-CoV-2)
Inform the vaccination centre as soon as possible. Your vaccination will be postponed.
Before vaccination you will be asked to answer some questions about your health:
After you have had the vaccine, you will be asked to wait for 20 minutes in case you experience any reactions.
Everyone who administers vaccines has had training and necessary medication will be available to treat possible allergic reactions.
A second dose will be given after an interval of several weeks. It is important that you try to take the second dose at the scheduled time for optimal protection. If something unforeseen occurs, inform the vaccination site as soon as possible to arrange a new appointment. The recommended interval varies slightly between different groups:
|Vaccine||Manufacturer||Type of vaccine||No. of doses|
|Comirnaty||BioNTech and Pfizer||mRNA||2|
For people with severe immune deficiency, an interval of 3 weeks is recommended for Comirnaty and 4 weeks for Spikevax. For other groups, the interval may be longer (up to 12 weeks) depending on vaccination status in each municipality and how many vaccines are available.
The absolute minimum interval is:
For Comirnaty (BioNTech and Pfizer) - at least 21 days between doses
For Spikevax (Moderna) - at least 28 days between doses
When combining the two vaccines, a minimum interval of 4 weeks is recommended.
It is important that the doses are not set at shorter intervals than described above, as there is a risk of uncertainty about how well protected you will be and also that it does not give a valid COVID-19 certificate.
Side effects and symptoms after vaccination
The coronavirus vaccines can cause side effects in many of those vaccinated, but they are mostly mild / moderate and pass after a few days. For some, the symptoms may be more severe. The coronavirus vaccines appear to cause more of the common side effects than other vaccines. The side effects usually occur during the first 1-2 days after vaccination. Common side effects are pain and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, joint pain and fever. Allergic reactions occur in some people. There is good knowledge about common side effects after vaccination, but rare side effects cannot be ruled out.
Among the rarer side effects reported are inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) and inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis). The condition most often occurs in adolescents and young adults. The symptoms usually appear within a week after the second dose, and are temporary so that most people recover within one month. The condition causes chest pain, wheezing, palpitations and fever. In case of such symptoms, consult a doctor for a medical examination. Norwegian cardiologists consider that COVID-19 disease can cause more serious heart effects in some people than after the vaccine, and that this rare side effect should not prevent adolescents from being offered the vaccine.
If you experience unexpected, severe or prolonged symptoms that you think are due to the vaccine, you should contact your doctor or other healthcare professional for assessment and advice. Healthcare professionals have a duty to report serious or unknown reactions that they suspect are due to a vaccine. You can also send a message via the form via helsenorge.no.
Mer informasjon om koronavaksinene:
- Vaksine mot koronavirus - Comirnaty (BioNTech og Pfizer)
- Vaksine mot koronavirus - Spikevax (tidligere COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna)
Stay at home or be tested for symptoms?
The vaccine can give side effects up to three days after vaccination, so how should you deal with potential symptoms after vaccination?
Symptoms that are typical vaccination side effects:
Fever, headache, fatigue, muscle or joint pain
Stay at home until you are fever-free and have a better general condition
If symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, consider a coronavirus test
Symptoms that are not typical vaccination side effects:
Cough, sore throat, runny nose, wheezing, lost taste / smell
Stay home and arrange a coronavirus test
Follow-up of side effects
When vaccines are developed, the goal is always for vaccines to give the best possible effect with the fewest possible side effects. Even if the new vaccines are tested thoroughly, rare side effects cannot be ruled out. Some side effects are only discovered when vaccines are in wider use, and have been given to many more people and to more varied groups than in the studies.
After the vaccines are in use, the Norwegian Medicines Agency, together with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, will monitor closely whether any unexpected side effects arise. There is also extensive international collaboration with the other countries that use the same vaccines. In addition, the vaccine manufacturers are required to conduct new systematic safety studies.
What happens to the notifications about side effects?
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) collaborates with the Regional Medicine Information and Pharmacovigilance Centres (RELIS) to process reports of suspected side effects from healthcare personnel. The notifications are entered in the ADR Registry at the Norwegian Medicines Agency.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency publishes regular reports with an overview of reports of suspected adverse reactions after vaccination in Norway.
- Read more about reported suspected adverse reaction from coronavirus vaccines at the Norwegian Medicines Agency.
Notifications from healthcare professionals are thoroughly assessed to find out if the incident may be due to the vaccine, or if it happened at the same time as vaccination. It is important to be aware that events that coincide in time are not necessarily due to vaccination. In some cases, it can be difficult to conclude whether an event is due to a vaccine or coincidence based on one or a few single events.
Protection and immunity after vaccination
The two mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna protect against disease caused by the new coronavirus. The protection is similar for the vaccines. About 95 per cent of those vaccinated in the vaccine studies had protection against COVID-19 one-two weeks after the second dose.
The studies indicate that the vaccines also provide protection against a severe course of coronavirus disease that requires hospital treatment. This means that in those cases where people get a coronavirus infection despite vaccination, the vaccine can contribute to a milder course.
We do not yet know how long the protection will last. If the protection decreases over time, booster doses may be necessary.
Since the vaccines prevent disease, they will also prevent transmission, but we do not yet know to what extent.
The risk that vaccinated people get COVID-19 diseases is small, but can happen. Therefore, it is important to continue to follow the current infection control advice and to be tested if symptoms arise, even if vaccinated.
Mutated virus variants
It appears that the vaccines will protect against the various mutated virus variants, but that the effect may be lower in some cases. There are now slightly different estimates for the different vaccines, and they are uncertain.
Although some data suggest a lower vaccine effect against mild disease for some of the virus variants, it is important to remember that the vaccine may still have a good effect against severe disease.
If a virus variant comes where the current vaccines do not work, then we can vaccinate again to improve the degree of protection.
Vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding women
Vaccination of children and adolescents
Children and adolescents rarely have a severe COVID-19 disease course, although some can become seriously ill. Vaccination can reduce this risk, as well as contribute to less transmission in society.
The following recommendations and offers of coronavirus vaccination apply to children and adolescents:
Adolescents 16 -17 years *
Adolescents 12-15 years ** with severe underlying disease
Other young people 12-15 years**
Children under 12 years of age
* Born in 2004 and 2005
** The cohorts 2006, 2007 and 2008, as well as those who have turned 12 in the 2009 cohort
Read more about the recommendation for 16-17-year-olds:
- 16-17-year-olds to be offered coronavirus vaccination (news article)
- Om koronavaksinasjon av ungdom 16-17 år (NIPH’s assessment, pdf – in Norwegian)
Read more about the recommendation for 12-15-year-olds:
- 12-15-year-olds will be offered coronavirus vaccination (news article)
- Coronavirus vaccine for adolescents 12-15 years - brief information with illustrations
- Om vurdering av koronavaksinasjon av barn 12-15 år (NIPH’s assessment, pdf – in Norwegian)
About consent from parents and the adolescent's right to co-determination
Those who have reached the age of 16 are of legal age and can consent to vaccination themselves. For younger people (including those born in 2005, but not yet 16 years of age), parents must consent to vaccination. In the case of joint parental responsibility, both must consent. Adolescents under 16 should be heard based on age and maturity and their opinion should be given weight. Vaccination is voluntary.
Right to tailored information
Adolescents have the right to receive tailored information. Parents should talk to their children about the decision to vaccinate and help to convey important information about this. The texts below and the links to tailored information material are intended to assist in this.
- Coronavirus vaccine for adolescents 12-15 years - brief information with illustrations
- What is a vaccine? (film)
- How do vaccines work? (film)
- Why do we get vaccinated against COVID-19? (film)
Questions and answers about vaccination of 12-15-year-olds:
Why are adolescents aged 12-15 offered a coronavirus vaccine?
Adolescents at this age rarely have a severe COVID-19 disease course. The direct medical benefit of the vaccine for each adolescent is less clear than for the older age groups and children with underlying conditions who have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease course. A few children and adolescents may still have a severe disease course if they get COVID-19 disease. With increased transmission in society, the number of adolescents with a severe disease course may increase. The offer of vaccination means that the individual can have the opportunity to protect themselves through vaccination. In addition to protecting those who are vaccinated, vaccination will also help to reduce the transmission in society.
How sick can 12-15 year olds become from coronavirus?
The risk of severe COVID-19 disease in children and adolescents is low. Although some of the new virus variants appear to be more contagious than before, so far there are no data to suggest that they cause more serious illness among children and adolescents. However, with increased transmission in this age group, we may have a higher number of young people with serious illness, even if the proportion of seriously ill young people should remain as it is today.
Severe COVID-19 disease in children and adolescents is particularly associated with a rare inflammatory condition called MIS-C. It is estimated that the condition occurs in about 1 in 3,000 infected children, and is more common in children of primary school age than in adolescents. The hallmarks of MIS-C are persistent high fever and inflammatory reaction in several organs that occur 2-6 weeks after infection. In the most serious cases, there is a need for intensive care in hospital. Follow-up 4-9 months after MIS-C indicates a good prognosis.
In some cases, people who have had COVID-19 disease may have persistent symptoms for a long time after recovery. In adults, a clear correlation is seen between the severity of acute COVID-19 disease and the severity of long-term health effects (sequelae). It appears that these effects are less common in children and adolescents than in adults, but knowledge about this is limited. The most commonly reported symptoms are fatigue, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, stuffy nose, sleep problems and pain. The number of reported symptoms appears to decrease over time.
Which coronavirus vaccine is recommended for the 12-15 year age group?
Both mRNA vaccines Comirnaty (BioNTech and Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) are approved for use from the age of 12 and are used in many countries. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends using Comirnaty (the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine) for adolescents aged 12-15. This is because there is most experience with this vaccine for this age group. The same recommendation applies to older adolescents born in 2004 and 2005.
Why is only one vaccine dose offered to this age group?
The older groups who are offered coronavirus vaccine are recommended 2 vaccine doses to be fully vaccinated. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health currently recommends one vaccine dose to young people aged 12-15 because:
- One dose of vaccine has been shown to protect well against severe COVID-19 disease course.
- The 12-15 year age group generally responds very well to vaccines, and the protection will probably be better among adolescents at this age than for older age groups.
- The serious side effects of myocarditis and pericarditis occur primarily after the second dose. Giving just one dose reduces the risk of these side effects.
The NIPH therefore considers that one dose provides the clearest benefit for the individual adolescent when the benefit is weighed against possible disadvantages of the vaccine.
The greatest transmission-limiting effect of the vaccines is achieved when two vaccine doses are given. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has assessed that for this age group who have a very low risk of a severe disease course, and who to a lesser extent than adults and older adolescents have contributed to transmission, the individual considerations of offering the vaccine outweigh the societal benefits of limiting transmission.
New assessments may be made later about whether a second dose may be appropriate. This depends on new knowledge about side effects and changes in the infection situation in the time ahead.
How good protection do 12-15-year-olds get from coronavirus vaccine?
This age group has a very good effect from the coronavirus vaccine. The protection against serious illness is already good three weeks after vaccination with one dose. This also applies to the Delta variant of the coronavirus. For good protection against becoming infected with the Delta variant, however, two doses are needed.
What side effects can 12-15 year olds have?
The vast majority of side effects occur 1-2 days after vaccination, are mild / moderate and pass after a few days. For some, the symptoms may be more severe. The coronavirus vaccines give more of the common side effects than most other vaccines. Younger people often have slightly more severe side effects than older people. Common side effects are pain and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, joint pain and fever. Allergic reactions occur in some.
Among the rarer side effects reported are inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) and inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis). The condition most often occurs in adolescents and young adults. The symptoms usually appear within a week after the second dose, and are temporary so most people recover within one month. The condition causes chest pain, wheezing, palpitations and fever. In case of such symptoms, consult a doctor for a medical examination. Norwegian cardiologists consider that COVID-19 disease can cause more serious heart effects in some people than after the vaccine, and that this rare side effect should not prevent adolescents from being offered the vaccine.
There is less experience with coronavirus vaccination of adolescents aged 12-15 years than there is for the other age groups who are offered a vaccine. We cannot rule out hitherto unknown side effects for this age group, rare side effects or side effects that appear long after vaccination.
Why not vaccinate 12-15-year-olds who have had COVID-19 disease?
Since recovery also provides protection against new infection, vaccines are not currently offered to 12- to 15-year-olds who have had COVID-19 disease. This corresponds to the recommendation for 16 years and upwards, where those who have undergone COVID-19 disease are recommended 1 dose of vaccine instead of 2 doses. Both COVID-19 disease and vaccination are considered to be separate «immunological events». The NIPH is following the latest knowledge and will gradually make new assessments of whether a vaccine should be offered for adolescents who have had COVID-19 disease. If you are unsure whether your child has had COVID-19 disease (not laboratory confirmed), they can be offered a vaccine dose.
What are other countries doing?
Other countries that have introduced vaccination of 12-15-year-olds have done so for various reasons. Several of these have had a different situation through the pandemic and poorer control over the situation than we have had in Norway. Some have struggled with too little vaccination coverage among adults and slow progress in their immunisation programme.
Denmark, Iceland and Finland have decided on general vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds largely based on the indirect effect on transmission by vaccinating them. In the UK, they have chosen to wait for a decision until there is more knowledge about the benefits and disadvantages for healthy 12-15-year-olds.
How do I get vaccinated?
The arrangements will vary between the municipalities. See your municipality's website for information about how it will be offered locally.
How do I get an overview of vaccination status in children and adolescents?
Those who have reached the age of 16 are of legal age and can consent to vaccination themselves. For younger children (including those born in 2005, but not yet 16 years of age), parental consent must be obtained. In the case of joint parental responsibility, there must be consent from both parents.
Since the legal age of majority in Norway is 16 years, parents do not have access to their child's immunisation status after their 16th birthday. Buypass ID is available from the age of 13 years. Adolescents with this ID can check their vaccines themselves by logging in to the vaccine service at helsenorge.no.
Adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18 years who do not have a BuyPass ID can order a vaccination card directly from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. NB! This is NOT a COVID-19 certificate.
Read more about how to order a COVID-19 certificate:
- COVID-19 certificate for non-digital users (Helsenorge.no)
Vaccination after having COVID-19
People with valid documentation of having COVID-19 from Norway
It is not yet clear how long the immunity from having had COVID-19 lasts.
It is therefore recommended that people who have had COVID-19 should also be vaccinated. People 16 years or over who have had COVID-19 only need one dose of vaccine.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends that this vaccine dose is delayed until 3 months after recovery, as a longer interval gives a better effect of vaccination. Follow-up studies show that protection after undergoing infection is high for the first 6 months and you can therefore choose to wait up to 6 months before the vaccine is given.
If the dose is given earlier than 3 months, it will still be valid, and will be considered as fully vaccinated, as long as there are more than 3 weeks between the positive test and vaccination.
If a person has COVID-19 during the first 3 weeks after the first dose, a new vaccine dose is recommended 3 months after recovery. If COVID-19 occurs more than 3 weeks after the first dose, no further vaccine dose is required.
Adolescents aged 12-15 years who have had COVID-19 disease are not currently recommended to be vaccinated. Read more about recommendations for adolescents aged 12-15:
People without valid documentation of having COVID-19 from Norway
If you had COVID-19 while you were abroad, or suspect that you have had it either in Norway or abroad, you can take an antibody serology test performed at a microbiological laboratory (i.e. not a rapid antigen test) in Norway. This will then be registered in the MSIS Laboratory database and therefore shown on Helsenorge. The antibody test must be taken at the latest on the same day as the first dose is given, to give a valid COVID-19 certificate based on the combination of infection and one dose of vaccine. This applies regardless of how long it has been since the suspected infection, as long as at least 3 weeks have passed. Together with documentation of having received one vaccine dose, this is sufficient for you to be considered fully vaccinated.
As there is no requirement for a maximum interval between the disease and the vaccine (for one vaccine dose to be sufficient), a PCR / equivalent test or rapid antigen test is not required (these differ from the antibody tests in that they document the timepoint of disease - by detecting antigens, they document the presence of viral material at the time of testing). For the COVID-19 certificate, data on antibody tests will be obtained from MSIS and linked to SYSVAK.
This is reflected in the vaccination guidelines about vaccination after undergoing COVID-19: The Norwegian Institute of Public Health therefore considers that one vaccine dose is enough for those who have previously undergone COVID-19 (approved PCR test / other NAT, antigen test or antibody test *). This applies regardless of how long ago they had COVID-19. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends that this dose is given 3 months after recovery, as this provides the best protection.
However, antibody test results will not give a valid COVID-19 certificate based on having the disease alone, because there is a requirement that the disease must be a maximum of 6 months back in time. Since PCR or antigen rapid tests are the only tests that can document disease at a specific time, only these tests are approved for a certificate based on having had the disease.
Vaccination of people who are sick, on medication or have allergies
It is common to postpone vaccination in cases of acute illness and with a fever above 38 °C.
Previous allergic reaction to vaccines
In case of a previous severe or life-threatening allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine, or to the ingredients of the vaccine, it is not advisable to give the second dose.
In a person who has experienced a non-severe allergic reaction to the first dose of vaccine, it may be appropriate to give the second dose. This applies if the doctor considers that the risk of COVID-19 disease outweighs the risk of an allergic reaction when vaccinated. In such cases, vaccination should be carried out with increased preparedness and with an observation time of 1 hour.
Previous allergic reaction to food, medicine, etc.
People with a previous severe or life-threatening allergic reaction to other vaccines, food or medicine can be vaccinated with the coronavirus vaccine. Extra precautions will be taken, including an extended observation period after vaccination.
Impaired immune system
mRNA vaccines do not contain live viruses and do not cause COVID-19. People with impaired immune systems can therefore take the vaccines.
Although the vaccines generally provide protection of about 95 per cent, protection may be lower among people with an impaired immune system, as has been seen for other vaccines.
Frail people with short life expectancy
For the vast majority of elderly people living with frailty, any side effects of the vaccine will be outweighed by a reduced risk of a severe COVID-19 disease course.
However, for people with severe frailty and those with a very short life expectancy, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences. Any benefits of taking the vaccine may be small. For these patients, their doctor should make a careful overall assessment and, in consultation with the patient and their relatives, decide whether the patient should be advised to take the vaccine.
Increased bleeding tendency
If you are taking blood-thinning medication, you can be vaccinated as you normally would. There is little risk of significant bleeding when the vaccine is injected into the arm. When you are offered a vaccine, tell the vaccination site that you are using this type of medication, so they are prepared to help you if there are signs of bleeding at the injection site. In that case, it will help to apply pressure to the area.
Examples of common medications prescribed in this group are Marevan, Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto, Lixiana, Albyl-E, Aspirin, Acetylsalicylic acid, Plavix, Clopidogrel, Persantin, Brilique, Heparin, Fragmin and Klexane. If you have an increased tendency to bleed due to an underlying disease, you should contact a doctor for individual assessment.
If you have haemophilia and are being treated with a coagulation factor, you should contact the vaccination site to schedule vaccination so that the vaccine can be given as soon as possible after the last dose.
Healthcare professionals should be aware that you are taking this type of medication so that they can give you the best possible help if you have an allergic reaction. You do not have an increased risk of allergic reactions, but may need more of the medication used to treat allergies.
Why do we vaccinate?
Having undergone an infectious disease will often provide some protection (immunity) against reinfection, but some diseases can cause such a strong inflammatory reaction in the body that, for some people, it can become dangerous. Some people become severely ill and may die, or have serious medical complications.
A vaccine gives the body something to practise on that resembles the disease virus, but that cannot cause the disease. The immune system is stimulated so the body can recognise and fight the virus. The vaccine quickly disappears from the body but has taught the body to defend itself if it is later exposed to infection. We can easily and effectively protect ourselves against some of the dangerous infectious diseases, without having to be exposed to the risk of having the disease.
In addition, vaccination helps to limit transmission in society so that we can all gradually return to a more normal daily life.
What can vaccinated people do?
Now that the proportion of vaccinated people is increasing, we can gradually ease some of the most intrusive infection control measures, as long as the infection situation allows for this. Read more about what has been eased so far for people who have been vaccinated or have undergone COVID-19:
We have increasingly certain knowledge that the vaccine protects the vast majority well against becoming ill from COVID-19 and against infecting others. Vaccinated people should continue to follow the infection control advice that applies at all times and arrange to be tested if they get symptoms that may be consistent with COVID-19. The few who get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated or having undergone the disease will most often have a mild disease course or no symptoms.
We will probably have to live with the basic infection control advice about keeping more distance, staying home when we are sick, and being tested for symptoms, a little longer. However, the long-term goal is for vaccination to help bring society back to normal, with the freedom this entails.
Coronavirus vaccine with another vaccine
It is not recommended to take another vaccine on the same day as the coronavirus vaccine. There should be at least one week between taking the coronavirus vaccine and other vaccines. If it is necessary to take several vaccines at once, you should consult a doctor.
Coronavirus vaccine and testing
You will not be tested for coronavirus before vaccination to find out if you have previously had a coronavirus infection. You will be recommended a vaccine if you belong to the recommended groups.
For more information about vaccination of people who have had COVID-19, please see:
It is not planned that those who are vaccinated through the coronavirus immunisation programme in Norway will be tested after vaccination to test the effect of the vaccine.
Since the vaccines do not give 100% protection, people can become infected with coronavirus even if they have been vaccinated. It is therefore important that vaccinated people should also be tested if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 disease.
Coronavirus vaccination does not affect the result of a coronavirus test, both PCR test and rapid antigen test. If a vaccinated person has to be tested against the coronavirus, the results of the test can be considered to be reliable.
Post-registration of coronavirus vaccines
How are EMA-approved coronavirus vaccines given outside Norway post-registered?
In the ongoing corona pandemic, we initially focused on making sure that vaccinations given in Norway were registered in SYSVAK, according to the SYSVAK registry regulations § 1-3 on maintaining an overview of vaccination coverage in the population.
If you were given an EMA-approved vaccine in another country, a COVID-19 certificate issued in the EU / EEA should primarily be used for border crossing, contact tracing and quarantine.
If you intend to stay in Norway for a longer period or have moved back, COVID-19 vaccinations approved in the EU can be post-registered in SYSVAK provided there is credible written documentation.
Who can you contact to post-register coronavirus vaccine(s) in SYSVAK?
- General practitioner (doctor)
- Municipal health service (see Implementation above)
- Private health service
What documentation do you need?
- COVID-19 certificate issued in the EU / EEA
- Written documentation of vaccination
How do you do this?
- Request a consultation with a healthcare professional in one the above services (video or physical consultation).
- Residents must log in to Helsenorge to check the COVID-19 certificate (the time taken to update the information on Helsenorge varies due to different medical record systems, but usually within 24 hours).
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health cannot post-register vaccines on behalf of private individuals.
Vaccination cards and COVID-19 certificates
A vaccination card is a documentation of which vaccines you have been given (in Norway) and are registered for you. You can log in to the vaccine service at helsenorge.no and download your electronic vaccination card. Coronavirus vaccination will also be visible on the card.
If you do not use helsenorge.no, the person who vaccinates you can give you a simplified vaccination card for coronavirus vaccination. You can make a note for the appointment for dose number 2.
Both types of vaccination cards are available in Norwegian and English.
Both the EU authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) are considering the possibility of introducing a global vaccination certificate/"passport" for those who have been vaccinated against coronavirus (as for yellow fever vaccination). The idea is that this could give certain rights, for example, to fly, cross borders and participate in events.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, in collaboration with the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the Directorate for e-Health, the Norwegian Health Network SF and other relevant actors, has been commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Care Services (HOD) to map the requirements and possible solutions for establishing an international vaccine passport.
The number of registered doses in the Norwegian Immunisation Registry SYSVAK, is published on this page (currently only in Norwegian). The statistics show the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 in SYSVAK.
AstraZeneca vaccine removed from coronavirus immunisation programme
The coronavirus vaccine Vaxzevria from AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine. It was used in Norway until 11 March 2021. It was removed from the Norwegian coronavirus immunisation programme because of rare but serious vaccine side effects in the form of low platelets, blood clots and bleeding.
Vaccination with Vaxzevria from AstraZeneca was suspended in Norway on 11 March 2021 following reports of rare, severe cases of low platelets, blood clots and haemorrhages after vaccination. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has concluded that there is an association between these cases and the AstraZeneca vaccine. Blood clots, low platelet counts and haemorrhages are now described as a very serious and rare side effect in the product information. The EMA considers that the vaccine still has a positive benefit-risk ratio, but that the authorities in each country must assess the benefit-risk against the situation in their country.
Following a review and evaluation of available data and the situation in Norway, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health published a recommendation on 15 April that the AstraZeneca vaccine should be removed from the national immunisation programme. The Government decided on 10 May that the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be used in Norway and will be removed from the coronavirus immunisation programme.
- Norwegian Institute of Public Health's recommendation about AstraZeneca vaccine
- The AstraZeneca vaccine will be removed from the COVID-19 vaccination programme (government.no)
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health provided information on further vaccination of those who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Janssen-vaccine not used in coronavirus immunisation programme
The coronavirus vaccine from Janssen-Cilag is a so-called viral vector vaccine. It was conditionally approved by the medicines authorities on 11 March 2021, but has not been used in the coronavirus immunisation programme in Norway. Following a recommendation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Government has decided that the Janssen vaccine will not be used in the coronavirus immunisation programme based on the current situation in Norway, due to the risk of rare but serious vaccine side effects in the form of low platelets, blood clots and bleeding.
The Government has decided that anyone who wishes to take the vaccine can be assessed by a doctor in order to get the Janssen vaccine. For most people, the risk of serious side effects from the Janssen vaccine will outweigh the benefits in the current situation. This also applies to most people who are travelling abroad. The Janssen vaccine is only available from a doctor after a thorough risk-benefit assessment.
This arrangement is not part of the coronavirus immunisation programme and is not recommended by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends that people should follow the coronavirus immunisation programme. All adults over the age of 16 will be offered an mRNA vaccine, see vaccination calendar.
- Read more about use of the Janssen vaccine outside the coronavirus immunisation programme (HelseNorge)
- Read more about the NIPH’s assessment about use of the Janssen vaccine in the programme (in Norwegian): Vurderinger rundt bruk av COVID-19 VaccineJanssen i koronavaksinasjonsprogrammet (pdf)
More about the serious side effects after the Janssen vaccine
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has concluded that there is a probable link between the Janssen vaccine and serious cases of blood clots, low platelet counts and bleeding. These are now referred to as a very serious but rare side effect in the product information. The EMA still considers the vaccine to have a positive benefit-risk ratio, but the authorities of each country must assess the benefit-risk based on their infection situation. Based on the current situation in Norway, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health considers that the risk of the rare but serious side effects may outweigh the benefits for those groups who have not yet been vaccinated through the coronavirus immunisation programme.