Kiik: Vaccination of whole population to start by age group in May

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

Mass vaccinations for those not in risk groups will start taking place from May, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said on Thursday. Vaccination of those aged 50-69 will take place first, followed by people in the 16-49 group.

Kiik said at the government's press conference that the goal to start the vaccination of the whole population in May or in June is still in place.

The minister said since older people are at risk of experiencing a more serious course of the coronavirus illness, vaccination of the general population cannot be started in all age groups simultaneously. 

Kiik told ERR that, according to the plan, vaccination of those aged 50-69 will take place at the start of May and at the end of May for 16-49-year-olds. Vaccinations for frontline workers will restart when 60 percent of people in risk groups have been vaccinated.

16-18-year-olds will receive doses of Pfizer/BioNTech, the only vaccine which has been given the go-ahead for this age group.

Kiik said people will be able to sign up for vaccination via a digital registry, but at the moment the registry needs to undergo further capacity testing.

This month the focus is to reach 70 percent vaccination coverage for the over 70s.

Vaccination coverage by age group by county. Source: Health Board.

The minister added that the first batches of the 150,000 additional doses of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine are due in Estonia at the end of April.

The additional vaccine will be distributed over two and a half months of the second quarter. Where under previous timetables Estonia was supposed to receive 420,000 doses of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine, it now stands to receive 570,000 doses.

PM: Government to discuss relaxing restrictions next week

The potential easing of coronavirus restrictions depends on how much the indicators have declined, and the government will start discussing the first relaxations next week, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said at the press conference on Thursday.

"Infections are going down, but not rapidly enough," the premier said. "We must make sure that the plateau from which we open is low enough."

Kallas said the government does not want to keep restrictions in place longer than is necessary. However, in order to be able to start relaxing restrictions, we need confidence that the indicators will not start rising again to levels where the medical system suffers an overload.

"We will revisit these decisions next week," she said.

"The back of the second wave in Estonia has been broken," Kiik said. He hoped the government will be able to agree about the first relaxations next week. 

Editor's note: This article was updated to add additional quotes from Tanel Kiik about vaccinations for the under 60s.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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