Mass vaccinations for the over 65s will take place over the upcoming Easter weekend but not all family doctors are pleased.
A record 64,000 vaccine doses will arrive in Estonia this week, almost 20,000 from Pfizer/BioNTech and 44,000 from AstraZeneca. The Pfizer/BioNTech doses have been reserved for the over 70s and the AstraZeneca will be used to vaccinate the over 65s.
But this weekend will not be a holiday for everyone. It will be clear by Wednesday how many family doctors are willing to administer vaccinations over the weekend, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Monday.
"When the vaccine arrives in Estonia, then we want to start vaccination as soon as possible," said Külli Friedemann, head of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund's primary services department.
From Wednesday, those eligible for a vaccine will be able to find out through the patient portal Digilugu and where to go. Additional vaccine centers will also be set up.
Minister of Health Tanel Kiik (Center) said: "Especially in larger areas, Tallinn, Tartu, Ida-Viru County, Pärnu, but also more widely in other health care institutions that are ready to administer during the holidays."
Kiik said the goal is to use as many vaccines soon as possible, although it is likely there will be some AstraZeneca doses left at the end of the weekend.
Le Vallikivi, head of the family doctor's union, told AK she does not know why these mass vaccination campaigns are being carried out when doctors and hospitals are already overwhelmed.
She said the vaccination process is a marathon, not a sprint and Estonia is probably only a fifth of the way through. Family doctors believe it would be wise to postpone some vaccinations until next week rather than rushing them all this weekend.
"As family doctors, we can see that the quantities of vaccines that are coming now, including the slightly larger amount that will come this week, can be quite reasonably integrated into completely normal working days," Vallikivi said.
She said a situation is emerging where mass vaccinations take place one week and then nothing happens the following week. "But whoever keeps the vaccine in the refrigerator is a criminal. So it would take a lot of so-called courage to decide that maybe they would do it that way," she said.
The public pressure on doctors, the Health Board and the Ministry of Social Affairs is so great that no one has suggested doing this so far.
Vallikivi's family doctors center will not participate in the Easter weekend vaccinations because all their risk group patients have been vaccinated.
"It is vital for us to have uniformly high coverage in the highest risk group across Estonia. Then we will be able to calmly move forward with vaccinating people in their 60s and 50s," she said.
Editor: Helen Wright