Doctor who vaccinated Russian diplomat ahead of schedule loses job

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

The doctor who administered a vaccine to a high-level Russian diplomat working in Estonia, letting him jump the queue, will step down from her position as head of department at Ida-Viru Central Hospital.

The decision was made after an internal investigation where it was found the vaccines were not properly entered into the vaccination information system and the hospital's board did not know the vaccinations had taken place.

Chairman of the Board Tarmo Bakler said the doctor, Veronika Iljina, will continue to work at the hospital. He said no other vaccinations had been given which broke the rules. The results of the internal investigation have been handed over to the Health Board. 

The management board started an investigation after the newspaper Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reported that Yuri Gribkov, consulate general of the Russian Federation in Narva, had received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine on January 5 and 27.

This is contrary to Estonia's vaccination plan as vaccinations may only be given to diplomats at foreign missions in Estonia after risk groups have been vaccinated.

Gribkov: I was offered vaccine in early January

When approached by an EPL reporter (link in Estonian) on leaving the hospital on January 27, Gribkov, 65, said he had received a second coronavirus vaccination at the hospital.

He said that he had a serious underlying health condition which meant he had been called to be vaccinated on January 2, a week after vaccinations started in Estonia.

Gribkov said he would be leaving Estonia to return to Russia on February 1 as his term in office was over which was why he had been in a hurry to get both vaccine doses before leaving.

Russian state media and social media channels have amplified claims that western-made vaccines, such as those made by Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna, are not safe and have been responsible for deaths among those receiving them.

At present, Estonia is only using the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Gribkov called the vaccinations he received a human gesture on the part of the hospital and told EPL that referring to the Pfizer vaccine as a "vaccine of death" was wrong.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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