Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) said vaccinating care home employees should be mandatory in a pandemic situation.
Riisalo said on ETV's current affairs show "Esimene stuudio" that there is no justification for what happened in the care home Halliste care home. "This is the place where as a Minister of Social Protection and a human I want to tell everybody: "Sorry," she said.
Riisalo admitted that the Social Insurance Board (sotsiaalkindlustusamet) and the Health Board (terviseamet) have been in contact with the care home from the start of February, but the head of the care home has rejected all help. "The infection commissioner went there several times but the help wasn't accepted," the minister said.
Riisalo said that the care home has broken good practice and social welfare guidelines and managers who allow such things and do not get vaccinate themselves should not work in care homes.
"When we talk about what is social welfare and social work mean, then all good practice and ethics rules have been infringed," she said.
"Coming back to the fact that the head of the institution refused to be vaccinated, it is unacceptable. In a situation where we know that a pandemic is targeting the elderly and the virus is the most difficult for them," the minister said.
Riisalo said that vaccination of care home workers should be mandatory.
"In the midst of a crisis, it is quite difficult to make any changes, but certainly once we have solved the crisis, we should look at the legislation and the rules under which license is granted, or the competencies when a person can work directly with clients. In the case of infectious disease, vaccination must become compulsory for employees," she said.
First responders, including the police, found three residents with covid-19 when they arrived at Mulgi Häärber care home in the village of Halliste, about 180 km south of Tallinn.
Two of the patients were hospitalized, one was already past that stage. All three died.
The prosecutor's office has initiated criminal proceedings. The manager and members of staff at the care home had refused coronavirus vaccinations.
Editor: Roberta Vaino