Health minister on vaccines: There will be none in storage by week's end

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Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

According to Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik (Center), the vaccinations of frontline workers is back on schedule and there are practically no vaccines left in storage as of Wednesday evening. The minister expressed hope that general vaccinations can begin in May.

Kiik said there is no basis for the criticism regarding keeping vaccines in storage for too long. "Of course, the work to map out the frontline activated before Christmas. Ministries then started to draw up lists then, by numbers initially at first. Those lists were asked for at the end of January, Kiik told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Wednesday evening.

"But the truth is that when the AstraZeneca vaccine reached Estonia, when it became clear that the immunoprophylaxis expert work group recommends using it for those aged 70 and under, then our planned timetable moved forward and we had to deal with frontline vaccinations faster," the health minister said.

Kiik noted that the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Estonia last week and the temporary delays have been solved now. "There was a new vaccine record today (Wednesday - ed), more than 4,000 people got vaccinated, there are more than 30,000 vaccine doses planned for this week, basically the entire storage capacity," he explained.

The minister pointed out that vaccination organization is much more complicated than organizing COVID-19 testing. "It presupposes different accessories, various refrigeration equipment, it expects people being monitored, getting acquintated with previous diagnoses, meaning this process is more complicated than just a so-called distribution of leaflets," Kiik noted.

According to the minister, there will be vaccines left in storage by the end of the week. "By the end of this week, when we are talking of reserved doses, there will be some 4,000 Pfizer vaccines in the Health Board's wares, which will go out on Monday morning to cover second injections, there will be a few thousand Moderna vaccines that are meant to cover second jabs and the AstraZeneca vaccine, all that is reserved, has either gone out or is going out and there will be a new shipment over the weekend, we will no have stock in essence," Kiik said.

A shipment of 16,800 AstraZeneca vaccines is set to arrive over the weekend, which is mostly reserved for the upcoming week. "We are again faced with the issue we had in previous weeks, that demand is greater than supply and we are looking at not being able to approve all orders since there is not enough vaccines in storage," he noted.

Kiik added that additional coronavirus restrictions will be approved on Thursday, but it is clear that contacts should be avoided to keep COVID-19 rates down. "Our aim is for all risk groups, frontline workers to get an opportunity to vaccinate by the end of April, meaning we will activate free vaccinations for everyone interested in May and it will depend on the peoples' demand, on how many vaccine doses reach Estonia," the health minister said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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