Study: Only 60 pct of Estonians willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19

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Vaccine (photo is illustrative). Source: NIAID/Flickr/Creative Commons

The willingness of Estonian people to be vaccinated against the coronavirus has remained around 60 percent, according to data from the Ministry of Social Affairs; however, for the purpose of returning to a pre-crisis situation, more people would have to be immunized against the virus, Postimees reports.

The number of people will be vaccinated has not changed over the three months the ministry has been conducting the surveys. Even though the Estonian people's trust in vaccines is high and coverage with most vaccination types in the national immunization scheme was over 93 percent in 2019, people are more cautious about the COVID-19 vaccine, citing concerns over the side effects of the vaccine as reason due to it having been developed quickly. 

17 percent of the respondents did not have an opinion on COVID-19 vaccines. 24 percent would not get immunized against the virus, among whom 15 percent do not trust COVID-19 vaccines, 6 percent did not deem getting vaccinated necessary and 3 percent were against any kind of immunization.

Andres Merits, professor of applied virology at the University of Tartu and member of the government's anti-COVID-19 research council, said that other states' experience shows that in order to return to a pre-crisis situation, approximately three quarters of the population would need to be immunized. 

He said based on what we have seen in places where the coronavirus has been completely out of control, some 75 percent of the population may end up contracting the virus.

Merits added the vaccine has not been tested on children or expectant mothers, which means it must not be administered to them.

"These groups cannot be vaccinated by default, which means that the percentage must be higher in other groups, close to 100 percent," Merits said, adding that the virus would be able to continue spreading among younger people.

"Those who do not get the vaccine, particularly if they're elderly, will take on a serious risk," he noted. 

"Even if we've vaccinated 50-60 percent of our adults and 90 percent of our at-risk groups, life will become much more normal, but it won't go back to what we'd really want it to be," Merits said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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