Recently, there has been information circulating on social media that Iceland has banned vaccinations against COVID-19. According to those spreading the above narrative, this would be caused by a very high excess number of deaths. In reality, no such thing is happening and Iceland is conducting another vaccination campaign against COVID-19. The claims presented online are based on manipulation and over-interpretation.
This narrative has been circulating online since November 2023. It appeared, among others, on the Evol, which referred to the well-known anti-vaccination activist Sasha Latypova. It was then shared by British politician Jim Ferguson, known for spreading fake news. It entered the Polish information space primarily due to an article published on the Salon24 website on December 3, 2023. On the same day, a text with identical content in English appeared on the Planet Today website. Most Polish-language social media accounts referred to information from Salon24, for instance here or here.
Manipulation of the message
The article on Salon24 refers to an article published by the Morgunbladid newspaper from Reykjavík. The problem is that the link redirects to the login screen of the Icelandic portal. The author was probably referring to this article, which, however, is not publicly available and requires providing an Icelandic social security number. However, a quote from it can be found on the blog of the previously mentioned Sasha Latypova. In her post, she informs that her partners from Iceland found a mysterious advertisement published in Morgunbladid. The information contained therein indicates that representatives of the regional health care department in Reykjavík warn against the increase in cases of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. They also inform that vaccinations against COVID-19 and flu are already underway for people over 60 years of age. Yet, only the second vaccine is to be available to the wider population. Sasha Latypova insinuates that this is breaking news because the Icelandic government is quietly withdrawing from vaccinations against COVID-19.
The anti-vaccination activist’s blog post was published on 20 November, while the article she refers to was published three days earlier. In fact, the information that booster vaccinations against COVID-19 will temporarily be available only to high-risk groups, was provided already in September. This is particularly interesting because, according to the activist, she was present in Iceland on 4 October as part of a conference of anti-vaccination groups. Nevertheless, in her blog post she claims that the announcement shared on 17 November is new and sensational because nobody in Iceland knows why the government has not ordered vaccinations for the general population. In fact, this is not true.
Iceland continues to vaccinate
Iceland follows WHO guidelines and administers vaccines to high-risk groups, i.e. all people over 60 years of age and younger people with chronic diseases. This is not sensational news or mysterious government activity. The population of Iceland has been informed of this by the relevant authorities. At the same time, the vaccine is available to everyone willing, but it is free only for people from risk groups. However, the Icelandic authorities make it clear that they are ready to expand the vaccination program to other groups if necessary. The only vaccine currently available in Iceland is the latest version of Comirnata, XBB 1.5 from Pfizer.
Kjartan Hreinn Njalsson, the assistant to the Director of Health, commented on the entire situation in an interview with AFP Fact Check:
Iceland has not banned Covid-19 vaccines and there are no soaring sudden deaths either. 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.
Contrary to information circulating on social media, Iceland has not banned COVID-19 vaccines. Currently, they are administered mainly to people from high-risk groups, in accordance with WHO recommendations. Icelandic government officials also report that there is no surge in sudden deaths. The supposedly sensational news circulating on the Internet has no basis in reality and uses a manipulated message.
AFP Fact Check: https://factcheck.afp.com/doc.afp.com.346M44R