FAQs: Coronavirus vaccination in Estonia

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The Health Board has started a coronavirus vaccination information campaign. Source: The Health Board.

Who can get vaccinated in Estonia? When? And how do you sign up? ERR News and the vaktsineeri.ee website has the answers.

Who can get vaccinated in Estonia?

Every resident of Estonia will be able to get vaccinated for free this year, the government has said. Estonians and non-Estonians will be vaccinated at the same time.

"The goal is to offer free vaccinations near their homes to all who are willing, from May. When the opportunity to get vaccinated opens up, this, along with the vaccination locations, will be announced on the vaktsineeri.ee web page, and through general information channels and media as well."

From Thursday (May 13), anyone over 40 can register for vaccination.

From Monday (May 17), anyone younger than 40 can register for vaccination.

Can international citizens or those without health insurance get vaccinated in Estonia?

Yes.

Foreigners living and/or working in Estonia, and people not covered by health insurance can get vaccinated against COVID-19 for free. They do not need to have a family doctor.

Do you need to have a family doctor to register?

No.

The Ministry of Social Affairs told ERR News anyone who has an Estonian personal identification code, regardless of whether they have a family doctor or valid health insurance, will be able to register on the national eBooking system www.digiregistratuur.ee.

From Thursday (May 13), anyone over 40 can register for vaccination.

From Monday (May 17), anyone younger than 40 can register for vaccination.

Who is being vaccinated now (May)?

Risk groups of all ages and the over 50s are currently being vaccinated. These groups will be contacted by their family doctors.

Already vaccinated: healthcare workers, care home residents, teachers and the over 60s and over 70s who want to be vaccinated.

When will non-risk groups and young people get vaccinated?

Vaccination of non-risk groups and younger people is scheduled to start in mid to late May. These groups will be split into two: 50-69 and 16-49.

Registration and vaccination of the 50-69 group is planned to start on May 3 and on May 17 for the 16-49 group.

According to the government's plan, vaccinations for younger age groups will open after 70 percent of the age group above has opened. So, after 70 percent of the over 70s have been vaccinated, the vaccination process will be expanded to include those aged 60-69.

The government's plan is to have 70 percent of adults vaccinated by the end of June.

The rate of vaccine coverage by age group can be seen below.

Do I need to be vaccinated if I have already had coronavirus?

ERR News asked the Ministry of Social Affairs and the answer is as follows:

"The Estonian Immunoprophylaxis Expert Committee recommends that the people who have recovered from COVID-19 should be vaccinated with a single dose, preferably on the sixth month after recovery. Then the vaccination course should be considered completed. Also, people who have had the COVID-19 disease more than 6 months ago should be vaccinated with a single dose to ensure a long-term protection. A second dose is not required for those who have recovered COVID-19, also there may be more side effects."

How can you sign up?

A national digital registry has been designed which is accessible through the Patient Portal. An Estonian ID code is needed to book a timeslot.

"Currently (April 22), there are not many vaccination appointments available in the eBooking system, but the health care facilities are gradually uploading new appointments as they receive more vaccine. We will certainly let the public know when vaccination is open to anyone. Vaccination is available to all residents regardless of whether they have a family doctor or valid health insurance," a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Social Affairs said.

If a person does not know how to use the digital registry, there are volunteers who can assist. To request assistance, a person should call 600 3033, calls will be answered every day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You can also watch a video about how to use the Patient Portal. The video is in Estonian, but the Patient Portal is also accessible in English and Russian.

What to do and consider before going to get vaccinated?

Be there on time or notify at first chance if you cannot go. This way loss of doses can be avoided and will get people vaccinated faster.

Wear a mask when you come to get vaccinated and come only if you are healthy.
Wear the kind of clothing that would make you comfortable. The COVID-19 vaccines are injected into your shoulder.

The vaccinator will establish possible contraindications before vaccination and advises on other issues related to the vaccination.

Keep in mind that after receiving the vaccine you will have to stay under the observation of a healthcare worker for a further 15 minutes in case you start to feel unwell after the vaccination.

Studies have not shown any direct or indirect negative effect on pregnancy but the experience with using the COVID-19 vaccines on pregnant women is limited.

For that reason it is allowed to use them during the pregnancy only if the possible benefits outweigh the potential risks to the mother and the foetus.

What could the possible side effects be?

Side effects might occur after vaccination. The more typical mild side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are pain and swelling of the injection site, headache, fever, feeling unwell, nausea, muscle pain, and joint pain. The symptoms usually pass within a few days.

This is also one of the reasons why it is requested that a person stay near doctors for 15 minutes after vaccination - this way it is possible to make sure that there are no primary and most severe side effects. Should these occur, the doctors can help immediately.

If a more serious health problem or one that lasts more than three days occurs after vaccination, contact your family doctor or call 1220.

The vaccinators have an obligation to notify the State Agency of Medicines about side effects but if you wish you can notify the State Agency of Medicines (Ravimiamet) yourself about health problems that have occurred after getting vaccinated.

To date, more than 300,000 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the world and there have been no reports of widespread dangerous side effects anywhere.

Source: Estonia's kkk.kriis.ee crisis information website.

Where will vaccination take place?

There will be six vaccination centers in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu and Ida-Viru County. Hospitals and family doctors centers will also continue to vaccinate people.

You can find a list of vaccination locations on the vaktsineeri website.

Tallinn

Tallinn will use Tondiraba Ice Rink (Tondiraba jäähall) and Mustamäe Cultural Center Kaja as vaccination centers.

The center at Tondiraba Ice Rink in Lasnamäe will open on May 18. The address is Varraku 14.

Virbi bus stop is situated next to the ice hall and buses 19, 44, 51 and 65 stop there regularly.

Tondiraba Ice Rink is located at Varraku 14 in Tallinn. Source: Google maps.

Mustamäe Cultural Center Kaja in Mustamäe (Mustamäe Kultuurikeskus Kaja) at E. Vilde 118 will open as a vaccination center on May 17.

Mustamäe Cultural Center Kaja is located at E. Vilde 118 in Tallinn. Source: Google maps.

Tartu

Tartu's vaccination center is at the A Le Coq sports center at Ihaste 7. It opened on April 27.

Tartu's vaccination center is at the A Le Coq sports center on Ihaste 7. Source: Google maps

Ida-Viru County:

Ahtme Hospital, Kohtla-Järve: Ilmajaama 14 and Ravi 10d

Narva Hospital: Haigla 1, Narva

Pärnu:

Pärnu Hospital: Ristiku 1

Tervis Medical Spa Hotel: Seedri 6

Will the schedule be met?

This vaccine process is based on the agreed number of vaccines arriving in Estonia at the right time. While Pfizer-BionNTech has kept its promises, and even increased supply to the EU this year, Moderna and AstraZeneca have not.

In May, 451,000 doses of vaccine are expected to arrive and an additional 532,000 doses in June, according to the government's revised vaccine plan.

The same plan estimates 308,000 people in the 18-59 age group can be vaccinated with a first dose in May and 84,000 in June. Many of the doses will also be used for second doses.

What vaccines are being used in Estonia?

Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen. The AstraZeneca vaccine is only being given to people over 50.

As part of the European Union's pre-purchase scheme, Estonia has agreements with five manufacturers: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen and CureVac.

The government has also given approval in principle for Estonia to make agreements for all eight manufacturers. Estonia has the possibility to buy 4,761,894 doses of vaccine.

The number of doses of each vaccine ordered can be seen below or viewed online here. Currently, only Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen can be used within the EU.

Information about each vaccine can be read on the vaktsineeri website here.

Is it possible to choose which vaccine you receive?

Yes.

Starting from Tuesday (May 4), vaccine applicants can choose which vaccine they receive when booking a time in the digital registry, head of the vaccination process workgroup Marek Seer has said.

How many doses have been administered so far?

369,157 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine - 27.8 percent of the population, as of May 9. In total, 523,902 doses have been administered.

Has Estonia launched its vaccination certificate yet?

Yes. It will work alongside the EU's Digital Green Passport.

You can now generate your own vaccination certificate QR code on the Patient Portal which can be downloaded and displayed on a phone or printed off. Those unable to use the patient portal can appoint a representative who is able to do so on their behalf.

Estonia's was created by private sector firm GuardTime and has been endorsed by President Kersti Kaljulaid. You can read more on GuardTime's website.

ETV's morning show "Terevisioon" demonstrated how to create a QR code, which can be watched HERE at 44"-50".

GuardTime's QR code vaccination certificates. Source: GaurdTime.

Where can I find more information about the vaccine process in Estonia? 

Estonia's vaccination website is https://vaktsineeri.ee/en/covid-19/vaccination-in-estonia/

You can also find more information on the kkk.kriis.ee website about the following subjects:

Vaccines

Vaccination in Estonia

Side effects

Vaccination plan and risk groups

Vaccination certificate

 

Watch again: Government information session

An online public information session about coronavirus vaccination in Estonia was held on Wednesday (March 16) featuring government members and health experts.

The two-hour discussion can be rewatched here with English translation. 

A second expert panel was held on May 10, which can be watched here with English translation.

Data

Coronavirus vaccination data can be viewed on the Health Board's website or on Koroonakaart.  

The Agency of Medicines also publishes data showing how many people have been vaccinated by sex, doses by manufacturer and reported side effects every week.

Note to readers

Feedback is welcome, as are suggestions for information to add to this article. Email: helen.wright@err.ee

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Editor: Helen Wright

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