Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik has signed changes to the national immunization plan that will see people 65 and older vaccinated for the flu free of charge starting on October 1.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to protect elderly people who are also the most vulnerable risk group of the flu. That is why we will offer free flu shots for people 65 years of age and older starting on October 1, 2021 in order to curb the number of cases and premature deaths," Kiik explained.
The Health Insurance Fund has been paying for flu vaccination in general and special nursing homes since 2019.
Doses of vaccine for immunization of nursing homes were procured by the state in 2019 and 2020. Vaccines for the rest of society came from the pharmacy network.
"Experience from this cold season suggests that current deliveries of vaccines might not be enough to cover risk groups. That is why it is sensible to ensure immunization of the elderly," Kiik added.
Free flu shots for the elderly will start from the 2021/2022 flu season.
Changes will also give more healthcare workers the right to administer vaccines. All providers of independent nursing services who have immunization training will be allowed to administer vaccines.
The 2018/2019 flu season saw an estimated 45,000-55,000 cases, with 1,662 people hospitalized due to severe cases and 57 deaths.
A total of 92,529 people or 7.02 percent of the population (including 10.2 percent elderly) were inoculated during the 2018/2019 flu season.
Ca 135,000 people or 10.2 percent of the population (coverage of the elderly at 15.1 percent) were inoculated during the 2019/2020 flu season.
Editor: Marcus Turovski