Daily: Ministry Secretary-General got preferential COVID-19 vaccine

Marika Priske.
Marika Priske. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

A leading social affairs ministry civil servant and board member at a major Tallinn hospital got an off-schedule coronavirus vaccine dose earlier this month, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reports, sparking claims of abuse of office.

Marika Priske, who is social affairs ministry Secretary-General and board member at the North Estonian Regional Hospital (PERH) in Tallinn told EPL(link in Estonian) that while she had received the vaccine, this came as a result of an unclaimed residual dose which would otherwise have gone to waste.

Priske denied any misuse of her post, adding that she had not personally requested the vaccine.

The inoculation Priske received was a sixth dose from a single vial, EPL reports. Pfizer/BioNTech-made vaccinations that have been arriving in Estonia since Christmastime have been reported as suitable for six doses, while the official manufacturers' dose-per-vial number is five.

PERH board chair: Hospital offering vaccines to board members and other personnel

Agris Peedu, PERH board chair, told EPL that a decision had been made at the hospital to offer operational and board staff the option to get coronavirus vaccinations where possible, in addition to front-line healthcare staff, who are priority in the vaccine program.

Peedu said this decision, made in conjunction with PERH's chief physician and the hospital's infection control department, still stood.

Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) told EPL that hospitals can vaccinate board members if they are often on-site at the facility or in an at-risk group; EPL says that Priske approached Kiik about the topic after the daily had contacted her.

EPL also reports that Rakvere Hospital has similarly offered vaccines to its board members.

Recent controversy saw another hospital board chair fired, after a leaked email showed he had been hawking "spare" COVID-19 vaccines to fellow Rotary International members.

Estonia's coronavirus vaccine procurement is centralized around the European Commission's process, with delays in arrival already having been reported.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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