COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE: Nearly 50 people in Longyearbyen have received at least one dose; all residents 65 and older expected to be finished soon; officials contacting next on list


Although it took a few weeks for more than a literal few doses to arrive, a total of 49 people in Longyearbyen have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot as of Friday, according to Longyearbyen Hospital.

Vaccinating all residents 65 and older should be completed soon and anyone in that age group who has not been contacted by officials within two weeks of today (Feb. 26) should contact the hospital, a press release issued Friday by The Governor of Svalbard stated.

Other local residents will then be contacted about vaccinations in the priority order established by Norway’s government. In addition to those 65 and older, those with active cancer in treatment are at the top of current list.

“We refer to the tax office’s list of persons registered as residents of Longyearbyen,” said Knut Selmer, the hospital’s infection control doctor. “We contact these individuals continuously, but the number of vaccines we receive per week is still limited.”

Only one vial containing five doses was sent to Svalbard to be administered to patients at the beginning of January, as Norway began vaccinating people during the last few days of 2020. The next shipment didn’t arrive until about three weeks later, but as of Friday five people have received both vaccine doses and 44 one dose.

Svalbard remains one of the few areas in the world with no officially diagnosed COVID-19 cases.