State appoints coronavirus vaccines Tsar

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Pfizer/BioNTech Coronavirus vaccines. Source: Pixabay

A new working group has been set up to oversee continuing coronavirus vaccinations over the summer. Marek Seer has been appointed vaccines tsar and will head up the new body.

Seer is head of the southern medical staff (Lõuna Meditsiinistaap), and his new post will require him to organize vaccination of the general population nationwide, in conjunction with health care institutions, state agencies and local government, health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) says.

As in most countries, coronavirus vaccinations have focused mainly on priority groups, starting with front-line healthcare workers, before moving on to other key employees such as teachers, along with at-risk groups including the elderly.

Tanel Kiik says that this latter demographic will continue to be the main focus through to the end of this month, while May and June will provide the general adult population the opportunity to obtain at least a first vaccine dose upon request.

The rest of summer will concentrate on issuing second doses (of two, for most manufacturers of vaccines).

Seer says that vaccine deliveries will match these goals; according to ERR's online news in Estonian, over a million doses of vaccines from the four manufacturers supplying Estonia (AstraZeneca, Moderna, BioNTech/Pfizer and Johnson&Johnson) are expected to arrive in the second quarter of this year (April-June inclusive).

He said: "Currently, preparations are underway to make the vaccination of a large number of people at health care institutions across Estonia, and as smoothly as possible."

The vaccination management working group's aim is to implement the general population inoculation by fall, with a strategy working group to be set up at the Ministry of Social Affairs – Tanel Kiik's ministry – in due course, to continue the work through fall and winter, into 2022 and beyond.

Seer was head of Valga Hospital in South Estonia for 10 years, 2008-2018, and from October 2018 to the end of March this year, he was a board member and administrative manager at the University of Tartu Hospital.

The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic saw him head up the southern medical staff, along with Professor Joel Starkopf.

At the time of writing, over 287,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Estonia, with over 84,000 of these having received both shots.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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