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Rate of COVID-19 vaccination is increasing: in Estonia, more than 100,000 people have received at least one dose of vaccine

COVID-19 vaktsineerimine

As of this morning, 101,452 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Estonia with at least one dose of a vaccine, while 43,942 people have been given both doses. A total of 145,394 vaccinations have been carried out. 32,661 vaccinations have been performed this week so far, which is more than a third above last week’s closing figure (+8,566). 

‘The rate of vaccination against COVID-19 has been rising for seven weeks in a row and will continue to do so. In March, both the vaccine quantities delivered to Estonia and to our family health centres will increase. Furthermore, new service providers, including private medical institutions, are constantly joining the vaccination efforts in order to offer vaccination opportunities both to those at increased risk and to frontline workers,’ stated Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik

‘Illness from COVID-19 is unpredictable, can be very severe, and its long-term health effects are still unknown. All COVID-19 vaccines protect against severe illness from the virus, thereby helping to prevent hospitalisation and to reduce COVID-19-related mortality. By getting vaccinated, we protect ourselves as well as others and help reduce the burden on our health care system, which will allow us to gradually return to a normal way of life,’ Kiik added. ‘To overcome the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that as many of us as possible take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated.’

This weekend, vaccinations are being carried out by a number of family health centres and hospitals, as well as private health care providers. In the coming weeks, vaccination of people at increased risk will continue, mainly at family physicians’ offices, and various health care institutions will also proceed with the vaccination of frontline workers: staff of educational institutions, police and rescue workers, and social welfare workers of local governments.

Single-dose COVID-19 vaccination coverage in Estonia currently stands at 7.63% (EU average: approximately 6%). Overall single-dose vaccination coverage among people over 80 years of age in Estonia is 27.1%. By county, coverage among people over 80 is highest in Hiiumaa 43.3%, followed by Saaremaa at 36.3%, Läänemaa at 36.1%, Pärnumaa at 35.3%, and Raplamaa at 35%.

Invitations to be vaccinated are currently delivered by phone as well as via the state information portal eesti.ee. As such, everyone should check that messages sent via the state portal are forwarded to an accessible e-mail address, and to update their contact details, if necessary. Otherwise, the intended recipients will not be able to receive the necessary information. E-mail forwarding settings in the state portal can be checked under ‘Notifications settings’. 

Diseases and conditions that put a person at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and therefore place them in a risk group have been defined by the national expert committee on immunoprophylaxis and listed in Estonia’s national COVID-19 vaccination plan (PDF). People over the age of 70 are considered to be at increased risk due to their advanced age. The Estonian Health Insurance Fund has sent all family physicians a list of their patients who are in a risk group. Lists of people under the age of 70 who belong to a risk group were based on diagnoses indicated as the main diagnosis on medical bills submitted in recent years as well as the prescription drugs used for treatment. The lists have been compiled with the aim of covering risk groups in a broad manner, so as to reach as many of those most at risk from COVID-19 as possible.

To date, a total of 461 health care institutions have participated in vaccination efforts. 44% of all COVID-19 vaccinations have been performed at family health facilities (375 family health centres in total), 38% by hospitals, 9% by nursing service providers, and 6% by specialist medical care providers. In order to be able to commence large-scale vaccination once larger vaccine deliveries start arriving, the Health Insurance Fund is already awaiting contract offers from private health care providers licenced to provide specialist medical care.

On the recommendation of the national expert committee on immunoprophylaxis, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will be used to immunise people over 70 years of age and the AstraZeneca vaccine will be reserved for those under 70 years of age.

The objectives of the COVID-19 vaccination efforts are to protect at-risk groups of the population, who have a higher risk of becoming infected or developing severe illness from COVID-19; to prevent and reduce COVID-19-related illnesses and deaths; to reduce the burden on the health care system and the economy; and to ensure the normal functioning of society.

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