Thousands of AstraZeneca doses have not been used in Estonia

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Coronavirus vaccinations taking place at Sõle Sports Center on April 3, 2021. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Thousands of AstraZeneca doses are still in storage because the over 60s target group do not trust the vaccine. Many are waiting for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine instead.

ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Wednesday that 3,000 of the 9,000 doses allocated to family doctors from the AstraZeneca delivery last week have not been used.

Additionally, 2,000 doses were left over from the mass vaccinations in Tallinn last weekend but family doctors have only requested 600.

AK spoke to family doctor Alina Terep in Jüri, Harju County who said she would not order doses as she does not have time to call elderly people and convince them the vaccine is safe.

"There is a lot of confusion and when we call people in the right age group, 60+ in risk groups or the over 70s, they say that this vaccine causes side effects or recently was, until recently, not allowed to be used," Terep said.

She thinks communication should have been better at the start when the vaccine was initially not given to elderly people due to a lack of research.

"Now so much information has been spread that people sometimes say outright that "it is too confusing that I don't believe anything anymore"," she said.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) did not agree that family doctors do not want the doses. He said the remaining vaccines have been offered to GPs had not been able to order any so far.

"If offered to family doctor centers across the country, these vaccines will certainly be used successfully," he told AK.

As of last week, 170 family doctors centers in Estonia had not received any doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some have refused it but some have not yet been given the chance to order doses. Seventy-three centers were offered doses this week and 50 made orders, AK reported.

Last week, 46,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered to Estonia and 4,800 are expected to arrive this week. An additional batch of 10,000 doses is unlikely to arrive, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund said. AstraZeneca has repeatedly delayed and cut the size of deliveries.

Almost 65,000 doses of vaccines were delivered last week and 41,000 doses were administered, the Ministry of Social Affairs said. It has always been planned to hold some vaccines back for second shots.

From Wednesday, Estonia will not vaccinate people under 60 years old with the AstraZeneca vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said there is a "possible link" to "very rare" cases of blood clotting. However, the agency said it can still be used for all people over 18. 

The EMA's statement can be read here.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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