Expert committee not in support of delaying second vaccine dose

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Doctors were the first to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in Tallinn on December 27. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The national immunoprophylaxis expert committee discussed potential questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations this week, including the possible extension of the interval between two vaccine injections which the committee does not support.

"Committee members reached a common conclusion - that we must lean on already conducted studies and will revisit the topic once supplemental data of the vaccine's effectiveness in case of a later second dose comes in," said Maris Jesse, head of the immunoprophylaxis expert committee.

"Therefore, we must proceed with the developer's instructions and people must be vaccinated with a second dose 21 days after their first injection or at the first possibility around 21 days," Jesse said.

In addition, the commitee discussed updates to the national vaccination plan and more precise prioritization for risk groups. Family physician Marje Oona explained that COVID-19 risk groups were set in cooperation with the expert committee over the summer. The committee looked over the order that physicians will begin to vaccinate people in risk groups going forward.

"We hope to begin vaccinating risk groups in the start of February, once arriving vaccine shipments allow us to. Risk groups will be invited gradually, people will be sent notifications and they will also be directly contacted, there is no need to worry - all risk groups people will get the chance to get vaccinated," Oona said.

Jesse added that vaccinations could be available to the general public in the second quarter of 2021.

The expert committee also confirmed the principles of inviting risk groups to vaccinations and an order based on age and/or health condition. People aged 80 and up will be vaccinated first.

The national immunoprophylaxis expert committee is a committee established to advise the Ministry of Social Affairs in questions of immunization and vaccination. The committee consists of representatives of immunologists, allergists, infection specialists, family physicians, paediatricians, nurses, the Health Board, the Agency of Medicines, the Health Insurance Fund and the social affairs ministry.

As of Friday, January 15, 16,677 people have been vaccinated in Estonia.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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