Estonia will purchase an additional 50,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to ensure health care professionals can be vaccinated more than once if necessary, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) has said.
The additional vaccines have been ordered incase the immunity of the first vaccination is not very long so health care works can have another dose if needed at the end of the year.
Kiik said Pfizer has confirmed 25,000 doses will be delivered in the first half of 2021 and another 25,000 in the second half of the year. He said the additional quantities "ensure a viable, effective and already authorized vaccine for the highest risk front line workers".
"In terms of quantities, 50,000 is not a big number, but we are purely looking to provide the health and welfare sector with confidence in case there is a need for re-vaccination," he said.
Estonia will also receive more than 600,000 doses of vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech within the framework of a joint European Union procurement, which will be enough to vaccinate 302,000 people.
Estonia has, in total, ordered more than four million doses of the vaccine from seven manufacturers, which is enough for two million people to be vaccinated.
Kiik told ERR Estonia will be able to vaccinate tens of thousands of people a week and, if necessary, the private sector will be involved to increase capacity.
Approximately 55,000 workers in the health and care homes sector need to be vaccinated and, when risk groups and other frontline workers are taken into consideration, the total rises to 350,000 people requiring a vaccine.
"We have an agreement with family doctors that the main vaccination can be done through the family doctor system. But of course, we can also involve occupational health physicians. Estonia's capacity is definitely more than 10,000 doses a week," he said.
Estonia started vaccinating health care workers with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday in Ida-Viru County, Tallinn and Tartu and 207 people were vaccinated on the first day.
This week, vaccinations of health care workers will start in other hospitals, ambulance services and emergency medical centers across Estonia.
Editor: Helen Wright