Recovered COVID-19 patients will also receive priority vaccines

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First COVID-19 vaccinations in Tallinn (photo is illustrative). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Although going through the coronavirus provides the body with antibodies, keeping people from getting infected with the disease for some time, people who have had COVID-19 will still be called for priority vaccinations if they are part of any risk groups.

While researchers are still studying the period of immunity after a person has had COVID-19, the common understanding is that a person rarely gets ill for at least half a year, an even longer period is also possible.

Yet, people who have had a bout with the coronavirus are still in line to receive priority vaccinations. A distinction made however is that those people will only receive one vaccine dose, good for about 80 percent efficacy.

Administring vaccines is still important however as there are still uncertainties about antibody effectiveness. "Having had COVID-19 or the presence of antibodies is not a contraindication for vaccinations. The state immunoprophylaxis expert committee's recommendation is to vaccinate those who have had it with one dose a week to six months after having COVID-19. Since the progression of the illness can be quite different - lighter for some, heavier for others - it may not be as effective as vaccinating," said Ministry of Social Affairs public health adviser Kärt Sõber.

"It is always possible for the person to explain to the doctor or nurse that they have recently had it, in that case they can get the vaccine later," Sõber added.

So on the one hand, those people are still placed on the priority vaccination list but on the other, they can ask for their vaccination process be delayed some.

Sõber confirmed that the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa), in charge of drawing up the vaccination lists, is aware of people having COVID-19. Drawing up vaccination lists is instead based on diagnose codes entered into the database over the last five years.

"The Patient Portal receives data about SARS-CoV-2 testing results, having COVID-19 and vaccinations. Since having the virus is not a contraindication for vaccines, there has been no need to link the data," Sõber explained why recovered patients are still in the priority vaccine list.

She added that the risk group lists are not updated weekly and that they were drawn up using data available at the start of the year.

Evelin Trink, spokesperson of the Health Insurance Fund, told ERR that the immunoprophylaxis committee gave the fund a recommendation of including former coronavirus patients in priority vaccinations. "We are basing our work on the recommendations of the council's experts," Trink said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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