Ministry updates list of at-risk groups to be vaccinated first

Maris Jesse at a press conference.
Maris Jesse at a press conference. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The over 80s and those in their 70s with underlying health conditions will be the first risk groups to be vaccinated at family health centers in February under new plans put forward by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the immunoprophylactic expert committee.

The Ministry of Social Affairs has, in collaboration with the  COVID-19 vaccination steering group and the immunoprophylactic expert committee advising the ministry, updated the national COVID-19 vaccination plan to better determine the at-risk groups that will get the vaccination first.

The vaccination of people of the at-risk groups at family health centers is to start in February. 

Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Affairs Maris Jesse said in a statement on Wednesday: "During the month of January, vaccination in care homes will continue within the limits enabled by the amounts of the vaccine arriving in Estonia and the second dose of the vaccine will be ensured for those vaccinated with the first dose. If the amounts of vaccine arriving in Estonia enable it, plans are to start providing vaccinations from next week gradually also to other healthcare professionals, who are not connected with family health centers, hospitals or care homes."

The plan calls for the vaccination of people belonging to at-risk groups to start at family health centers in February.

The at-risk group has been divided into smaller segments in accordance with the degree of risk. The first to get a vaccination will be Estonian residents aged over 80. That category will be followed by people over 70 years of age who have illnesses or conditions which put them at risk of the disease taking a very aggressive course in them, which may require that they be treated in hospital. The rest of the at-risk group is made up mainly of people with specific accompanying illnesses and everyone over 70 years of age regardless of the presence of accompanying illnesses.

Kulli Friedemann, head of the department for first contact medical care at the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, said that currently preparations are being made for the vaccination of the at-risk group. When exactly the vaccination will start will become clear in the coming few weeks. When the time arrives, the people of the at-risk groups will be notified by means of an e-mail to their e-mail address on the domain and family health centers will start to gradually contact them, Friedemann added. 

The lists of the people in at-risk groups have been prepared on the basis of information from the Health Insurance Fund, with the eligible conditions listed in collaboration with the Family Physicians Association of Estonia and the immunoprophylactic expert committee. The lists have been forwarded to family doctors, who will make sure that all at-risk group people on their patient lists have been included. 

Le Vallikivi, head of the Family Physicians Association of Estonia, said that family doctors are ready for the vaccination of the people of at-risk groups.

The at-risk group comprises approximately 360,000 residents in total. The length of the period of the vaccination of that group depends on the amounts of vaccines arriving in Estonia. The vaccination of the general population will start as soon as sufficient amounts of COVID-19 vaccines have arrived here.

Vaccinations against coronavirus have been performed on a total of 20,478 people in Estonia to date, officials said on Wednesday. The total number includes 19,637 people who have received the first dose and 841 who have received both of the recommended two doses. 

Estonia has so far joined five pre-purchase agreements (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV and CureVac) in the EU's joint COVID-19 vaccine procurement, with which a total of 3,177,726 doses of vaccine have been ordered for Estonia. The government has approved in principle Estonia's accession to the pre-purchase agreements of all seven vaccine manufacturers in the joint procurement of the European Union.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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