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."

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.

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 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 50-69.

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.

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.

In Tallinn, the vaccination of foreign nationals is handled by Ülemiste Perekliinik OÜ. They can be contacted by calling 58 834 417.

What is the vaccination process?

First, make an appointment online through the patient portal or by phone. At the allotted time, visit the vaccination center, hospital or family doctor arriving 15 minutes early to complete your registration. After vaccination, you will be requested to wait 15 minutes to check you do not suffer any immediate side effects.

What could the possible side effects be?

Temporary mild side effects such as a fever or headache might occur after vaccination against COVID-19. These are to be expected with all vaccines and show that the immune system is reacting to the vaccine. Compared to the symptoms of COVID-19, the side effects are usually milder.

Some more startling symptoms do exist (e.g. numbness in the face) but these are extremely rare, pass within a day or two, and are not permanent.

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.

Contact a family doctor if side effects occur later. Side effects can also be reported to Estonia's Agency of Medicines (Ravimiamet).

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?

If you live in a city, most likely in a mass vaccination center. These have been constructed in both Tallinn and Tartu and sports halls have been repurposed for the occasion. Elsewhere in the country, vaccinations are taking place at hospitals or family doctors' centers.

Tallinn has previously used Sõle Sports Center and the Tondi Raba Ice Rink as vaccination centers.

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

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?

339,651 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine - 25.6 percent of the population, as of May 3. In total, 464,935 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. 

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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