Family physicians are steadily vaccinating the elderly

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Coronavirus vaccine in progress. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

While there are not enough coronavirus vaccines for everyone in Estonia, there was enough to begin vaccinating those aged 80 and up in 27 family doctor centers in Harju, Pärnu and Ida-Viru counties this week.

Dr. Karmen Joller, family physician and board member at the Estonian Family Physicians Association, told ERR that two of her elderly patients refused the vaccine. "They said they were old and would leave their doses to someone younger and that they do not want to live any longer anyway. I have tried to explain that it will not actually go like this - the coronavirus will come and then boom, you are dead. It is not a pleasant process at all," Joller said.

She specified that it has been noted that side effects are rare among people aged 55 and up. Even if they do come up, the side effects tend to pass easily and are completely safe.

A few days after her 90th birthday, Helgi Vihma received a call from her doctor on Monday and did not hesitate to show up for vaccination. Vihma told ERR that the call was surprising, but the injection was painless. "I did not even feel the jab, meaning whoever did the injection had to know about acupunture and where the nerve knots are. They knew their work," the lady said.

This week, family physicians were allocated 4,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and each doctor could order up to 36 doses. The coming week will se another 7,000 people get vaccinated in local physician centers.

Külli Friedemann of the Health Insurance Fund's (Töötukassa) first-level services department told ERR that people aged 80 and up are in the priority list for vaccines and family doctors can also invite elderly who live together to get vaccinated together.

"Next week, we can already extend to other counties, we can cover the entirety of Pärnu and Ida-Viru counties and give them more vaccines. We can do the same in Harju County if we have enough shipments," Friedemann said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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