Lutsar: Hospital worker COVID-19 vaccination rate not dangerous

North Estonia Medical Center (PERH).
North Estonia Medical Center (PERH). Source: Aivar Kullamaa/PERH

Despite reports of hospital workers being hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the head of the government's scientific advisory council has said the current situation is not dangerous.

On Friday, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) asked experts and medical professionals about the vaccination rate amongst hospital staff and the concerns around healthcare workers who do not want to get the vaccine. Under Estonia's vaccination plan, healthcare workers were the first people to be vaccinated.

Professor of Virology Irja Lutsar said it is not yet possible to access whether the vaccination of healthcare workers has been successful as it is too early to tell.

Speaking about the hesitancy around the vaccine, she said: "Some people may have been a little scared at the beginning, now they see that the vaccinations are going well and they are coming to get vaccinated, so I would not call it bad, 50 percent is very good."

Additionally, some healthcare workers have recently had coronavirus and did not take the vaccine because they already have temporary immunity.

The vaccination coordinator at East Tallinn Central Hospital Ülle Rohi said people need time to decide. "They want to think about their decision, they want to see what happens to colleagues who have had two doses of the vaccine. Secondly, we notice that there are people who need more time [to decide]," Rohi said.

Some workers have also postponed their vaccination rather than rejecting it completely.

Mait Altmets, head of infection control at Tallinn's North Estonia Medical Center,(PERH), told AK: "There are those who are specifically waiting for a different vaccine, AstraZeneca or even Sputnik. Most of them are people who live in a slightly different information space."

Fewer than 20 percent of employees in hospitals have said no outright to getting vaccinated but some have also changed their minds.

Medical manager of Pärnu Hospital Veiko Vahula said approximately 19 percent of workers at the hospital had refused vaccination but that number was higher at the beginning of the year. "20 people have changed their minds and have already been vaccinated," Vahula said.

In many hospitals, there is a higher vaccination rate among doctors than careworkers. For example, at PERH, 80 percent of doctors, 50 percent of nurses, and 46 percent of nursing staff have been vaccinated.

Lutsar said vaccination is important for all people working in hospitals.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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