Coronavirus vaccinations for all those who desire it is not feasible by the target date of the end of June 2021, daily Postimees says. However, the paper was unable to get concrete information on when and whether delivery rates would be met.
Several private sector firms are involved at various stages of EU procurement processes for the COVID-19 vaccine, so the issue is a moving target already. Once priority people have received the injection, administering inoculation to the rest of the populace also hinges on how many people actually request it; at present the vaccine is optional and is not mandatory for all citizens and residents.
The national vaccination plan provides for a total of 350,000 people to be inoculated as priority, mainly front-line health-care workers and those in at-risk groups such as the elderly, as well as other key personnel such as the police and emergency services.
Postimees claims that at that rate, vaccinating non-priority individuals could start in the second quarter of 2021, which means both delivery volumes and speeds need to be stepped up.
Family doctors' association chief: No clear plan yet but priority people all inoculated by February
Le Vallikivi, head of the Family Physicians Association of Estonia (Perearstide selts), says family doctors are prepared to start the immunization of at-risk groups, after health care workers and care home residents have received their jabs, which is feasible any time from late January she said, adding there is no clear plan on accomplishing this.
Vallikivi agreed that the speed of vaccine delivery will be a determining factor, as will the ultimate size and scope of at risk groups.
As of Monday, Estonia had immunized over 200 people, all front-line health care workers, with doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, just days after the first batches of vaccines arrived in the country. As of Tuesday lunchtime this number had passed the 500 mark, BNS reports.
An additional 50,000 doses have also been ordered from Pfizer.
The vaccines are part of a pan-EU procurement and require authorization from the European Commission; several other companies are vying for supply to EU nations, with their products likely to reach Estonia too.
Postimees: Around 27,000 doses needed per week
Training in administering the vaccine began on Christmas Day; Le Vallikivi said one trained medical professional can immunize four to five people an hour.
To start immunizing non-priority individuals, those who request inoculation, by the end of the second quarter, 27,000 doses are needed in Estonia every week (for 13,500 people, since each individual receives two doses).
Eike Kingsepp, Health Board (Terviseamet) spokesperson, said that the board does not know exactly what the figures are yet in terms of delivery, though the social affairs minister has said that doses from other suppliers and not just Pfizer will help with this.
The Health Board falls under the ministry's remit.
Tallinn hospital spokesperson: We will be able to administer vaccine to public in due course
Additionally, the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) is to send lists of people in at-risk groups to family health centers at the start of January, BNS reports.
A spokesperson for one Tallinn hospital said that provided all health care workers are inoculated in the first quarter of 2021, hospitals will be able to support family health centers in administering vaccines to at-risk groups as a next step.
Mait Altmets, head of the infection control service of the North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) said: "Once we're done with our own employees, we could also vaccinate the population or at least the at-risk groups. If we're doing this on a daily basis and also have a vaccination office, why not offer the COVID-vaccine as well," he said, adding that the hospital would be able to immunize its own patients who are part of an at-risk group.
Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) referred Postimees to the ministry's communications department for further details on vaccine delivery schedules, though BNS reports that the latter provided no further information.
A vaccine developed by manufacturer Moderna is to be assessed by the European Medicines Agency on January 6. If the vaccine is approved, it will be granted marketing authorization by the European Commission.
516 people immunized as of Tuesday lunchtime
A total of 516 people had been immunized by Tuesday lunchtime, BNS reports.
The bulk of these, 342, had received their inoculation by or on Monday, the Health Board says, principally at PERH, East-Tallinn Central Hospital (ITKH) and Ida-Viru Central Hospital (Ida-Viru Keskhaigla).
The data is entered into the board's Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK).
TEHIK chief Katrin Reinhold said data had been updated withn 24 hours of immunizations taking place.
Reinhold said: "They (i.e. TEHIK and health-care staff-ed.) have a lot of responsibility right now, to carry out and correctly document the administering of the vaccine, since if a mistake is made in the immunization notice, health care service providers have the right to change or cancel the document retrospectively, which results in changes in the following day's statistics."
A total of 22 changes had been made to Tuesday's figures, while five vaccination notifications had yet to be entered into TEHIK's system, BNS reports (511 vaccinations were entered for Tuesday, plus the late five, making the 516 quoted – ed).
TEHIK says it will start displaying vaccination information as public data on the Health Board's coronavirus heat map at the start of next week at the latest.
Editor: Andrew Whyte