Ratas postpones coronavirus vaccination

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Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Speaker of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) has said he will not be vaccinated on Tuesday along with other members of the Riigikogu. Minister of Culture Anneli Ott (Center) has also not been vaccinated yet.

Ratas told ERR on Tuesday morning he has two reasons for delaying his vaccination.

"First, I consulted with my family doctor. Secondly, I wish to wait until the time vaccination reaches my age group," Ratas said. He could not say how many members will be vaccinated on Tuesday. "It's everybody's own decision," Ratas said.

Earlier this week the Riigikogu's communication department said Ratas was supposed to be vaccinated on Tuesday at 11.40 a.m. at East Tallinn Central Hospital. Ratas also wrote he would get vaccinated on social media on Sunday evening.

On Tuesday, news portal Delfi later reported that East Tallinn Central Hospital had offered Pfizer/BioNTech doses to those getting vaccinated but this was stopped by the State Chancellory on Monday which said AstraZeneca should be used instead. Exceptions are allowed only if prescribed by a politicians family doctor.

The State Chancellory does not know why the hospital offered different vaccines to some politicians.

Inge Suder, the hospital's marketing manager, did not confirm or deny that the hospital planned to vaccinate politicians with Pfizer or could have given them a promise. She said on some days Pfizer is used but after the government office requested AstraZeneca, doses were found.

Speaking on Viikerraadio's show "Stuudios on peaminister" on Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on March 12 it was agreed that politicians should set a good example and be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"As far as I know, most members of the government have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccine. The Reform Party faction also vaccinated itself with the AstraZeneca vaccine when the opportunity arose. What Jüri Ratas' reasons for not getting vaccinated at the moment are must be asked from him." Kallas said.

Thirty Riigikogu MPs received their first dose on March 18 and vaccinations for members of the government started on March 25.

Aab: Minister of Culture can be vaccinated with another dose

ERR reported on Tuesday that Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) and head of the Center Party's government faction said Minister of Culture Anneli Ott (Center) has also not yet been vaccinated but is ready to be with a vaccine other than AstraZeneca.

"As far as I've talked to the Minister of Culture, she's ready to get vaccinated. When that time comes again. Maybe with another vaccine. It's still a personal choice," Aab ​​said.

Aab reiterated that it is people's personal choice whether they do or do not get vaccinated and said he had been vaccinated with AstraZeneca to set an example to those concerned. He also highlighted that many members of the Riigikogu have already been vaccinated as well as President Kersti Kaljulaid.

He said politicians who have not yet gotten vaccinated should explain why as he cannot do so on their behalf.

Ott told ERR she has been at home in Võru County in south Estonia and her local family doctor did not have a vaccine for her. She was also concerned about the side effects of the vaccine impacting her work in the Riigikogu.

"But since I've already announced that I'm vaccinating myself, I will ... this week, I am in Tallinn because I need to be in the Riigikogu almost every day, but otherwise I am at home in Võru County and talking to the family doctor at that time there was no vaccine for me," she said.

"Today, there are very clear recommendations for age groups. And I will definitely consult a family doctor. But since side effects are natural with the vaccine, I just didn't think it was right to plan to get vaccinated this week because it is necessary to be in front of the Riigikogu. And the family doctor has not offered me this opportunity at the moment."

Currently, in Estonia, it is recommended to use AstraZeneca for vaccinating people over 60. Ott is 44. She said people should consult their doctors before being vaccinated.

"My decision is based on what the Health Board's recommendations are. Here I am in exactly the same situation. I have not studied medicine and cannot have a say in this. But, of course, everyone is advised to follow their own health and consult a family doctor. They are our first point of contact and I think it is the most reliable way to do it" she said.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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