3. Providing health services effectively
The section on PROVIDING HEALTH SERVICES EFFECTIVELY describes approaches for service delivery planning and patient pathways for suspected COVID-19 cases. It also considers efforts by countries to maintain other essential services during periods of excessive demand for health services.
3.1 Planning services
The vaccination of residents in nursing homes and frontline health care workers began December 28th, 2020. The Chief Epidemiologist at the Directorate of Health proposed a vaccination schedule now published by the Ministry of Health on the COVID-19 website (see here: Bóluefnisdagatal (covid.is) ). This schedule will be updated on regular basis.
1) By mid-January 2021, frontline staff at the two main hospitals in Iceland had all been fully vaccinated.
2) Vaccination of staff at COVID-19 wards, staff performing COVID-19 tests and staff at nursing homes started mid-January and is planned to be completed by early March.
3) Residents in nursing homes had all been vaccinated by the end of January.
4) Vaccination of paramedics, staff at fire departments, police on patrol and staff in prisons started in early January and was planned to be completed by the end of February.
5) Vaccination of all other health professional started at the beginning of January and is planned to be completed in mid-March.
6) Vaccination of people aged 90 year started February 1st and was completed by mid-February.
7) Vaccination of people aged 80-89 began in mid-February and was planned to be completed in the first week of March.
8) Vaccination of people aged 70-79 is planned to begin in early March and be completed in early May given that the existing delivery plans of vaccines will hold.
Given existing contracts but depending on pharmaceutical market licencing and delivery plans the vaccination plan is the following:
9) Vaccination of people aged 60-69 will begin in early April and be completed in early June.
10) Vaccination of people with underlying diseases will begin in mid-April and be completed in mid-May.
11) Vaccination of teachers and staff in social services will begin on May 1st and be completed before the end of June.
12) Vaccination of people in economic or socially vulnerable circumstances will begin on May 1st and be completed before the end of June.
13) Vaccination of others will begin in mid-May and be completed at the end of June.
As of February 26th 12 564 individuals had completed vaccination and the vaccination of other 7029 had started. To access further statistics on COVID-19 vaccinations in Iceland please visit the COVID-19 website here: Statistical information vaccine (covid.is) .
From the beginning of the pandemic in Iceland, individuals were advised not to come directly to the Acute and Emergency rooms (A&E) or the primary care centres. They were directed to make initial contact by a dedicated telephone number and get advice from nurses on what to do and how to proceed. Health care providers were advised to provide separate waiting rooms for patient with higher risk of infections, minimize length waiting times in waiting rooms, ensure availability hand sanitizers and remove all journal, magazines and papers. Access to medical and nursing care services was increased with better availability of tele-medicine and health care advice via telephone calls and patients were encouraged to use those channels instead of coming physically to the clinics.
DoH. Status Report, DCPEM and CE. March 24th 2020 https://www.landlaeknir.is/servlet/file/store93/item40626/COVID19_Stoduskyrsla_24032020.pdf
DoH. Responses of the health care authorities, March 16https://www.landlaeknir.is/koronaveira/vidbrogd-heilbrigdisyfirvalda/
DoH March 11th, Guidance to helath care workers https://www.landlaeknir.is/um-embaettid/greinar/grein/item39200/Leidbeiningar-til-heilbrigdisstarfsmanna-vegna-COVID-19
DoH March 23rd 2020. Information to health care workers and other COVID-19 responding parties https://www.landlaeknir.is/koronaveira/upplysingar-fyrir-heilbrigdisstarfsfolk/