Board member of the Estonian Society of Family Practitioners (Eesti perearstide selts) Dr. Karmen Joller said that people have all kinds of fears regarding the coronavirus, but getting vaccinated is ultimately less dangerous than medicines used every day.
Joller told ETV's political interview show "Esimene stuudio" that many people fear that vaccines are dangerous. "Some fear they will turn into reptiles or something. But some fear side effects. Some think vaccines are dangerous. It is interesting that there is an image of danger laid on vaccines, as if they are something scary," the family physician said.
"If we look at the list of side effects and compare it to ibuprofen's list, let's say - everyone buys and eats ibuprofen if they have a headache - they are not comparable. Side effects are different in danger and frequency," Joller told show host Johannes Tralla.
"Ibuprofen is certainly more dangerous than any vaccine. And consuming ibuprofen has significantly more contraindications than vaccines," she added.
Joller noted that side effects are more common among young people when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines. Side effects are mostly ones that have been talked about: feeling unwell, headache, fever, joint pain, injection site pain.
As a family doctor, Joller also sees that people have certain preferences about which vaccine they would like to receive. There are those who want the Russian Sputnik vaccine, some want Pfizer and some stay away from the AstraZeneca vaccine. She added that Russian speakers ask for the Sputnik more often. Russians also refuse vaccines more often, Joller said.
The doctor noted that family doctors do not get to choose which vaccine they receive, they make do with what is sent to them.
Joller noted that all coronavirus vaccines in use are good either way and the Sputnik vaccine is likely effective, but it has not received an EU sales permit yet.
According to Joller, the Estonian immunprophylaxis expert committee's recommendation to remove age limits from the AstraZeneca vaccine is a solution to a bottleneck, which has so far affected vaccinating the elderly and other risk groups. "If we received some 30 doses for 70+ people so far, we will now likely receive some 100-200. I believe it will increase the pace significantly.
In a response to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas's call for family physicians to vaccinate more people last week, Joller wrote up an opinion article called "Why vaccination is slow, an explanatory note for the PM", in which she defended family doctors and said they are more than ready to vaccinate more patients.
Joller said Kallas has hurt family physicians. "I think she did not want to do it but she did, yes. After many months of effort that we have done to vaccinate people with vaccines we did not have or had too much or too little, to say that we need to urge family doctors to vaccinate more, it stung," Joller said.
"But I think it was not deliberate in any way and I know it was not deliberate, that much I believe I know our prime minister," she added and emphasized that family physicians want to vaccinate their patients.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste