Slow progress on healthcare workers' coronavirus vaccination program

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A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Source: Jassu Hertsmann / Ministry of Social Affairs.

All frontline hospital workers who have requested vaccination against COVID-19 have been at least partly-vaccinated, meaning they have received the first shot, the social affairs ministry says. However, this should not be taken to mean full coverage of healthcare staff is anywhere near to complete, Baltic News Service reports.

Manufacturers generally stipulate their coronavirus vaccine be administered in two separate shots for full effect. Healthcare workers have been prioritized for inoculation since the first batches of vaccine started arriving at Christmastime.

At the same time, while vaccinations are not mandatory, a grey area exists between those who have expressed a desire to have the vaccine and those who have stated they do not want it.

Heli Paluste, head of the ministry's healthcare network, said: "Those who were not among the first to inform their employer of their wish to be vaccinated cannot automatically be considered as having opted out of vaccination, either. Thus, we cannot yet say who wants to get vaccinated and who does not."

This in part resulted from individuals needing more time to decide, and pressuring them into making a choice one way or another was not ethical, Paluste added.

She said: "Health care institutions are not keeping track of who is refusing the vaccine, and no such data is collected, as we cannot consider everyone who did not want to get vaccinated in the current phase as having opted out of the vaccine altogether."

Paluste said that slightly over 2 percent of the population as a whole have been recorded as being wholly opposed to the vaccination on principle.

As of Saturday morning, 25,704 individuals in Estonia had received the coronavirus vaccine, with 2,400 of these receiving the vaccine two times, and the remaining 23,304 once, so far.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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