Vaccine chief: It is possible that AstraZeneca vaccines remain unused

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Marek Seer. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Marek Seer, the freshly appointed chief of the work group tasked with overseeing the coronavirus vaccination process in Estonia, told ETV's political interview show "Esimene stuudio" that he has considered the possibility of AstraZeneca vaccines simply not going to use in Estonia.

Seer said there have been two groups created within the vaccination work group. One deals with the long-term perspective of vaccinations and the other, his team, is tasked with the short-term plan of achieving 60-70 percent vaccination coverage.

"I hope 70 percent will be vaccinated by August," Seer said.

Show host Andres Kuusk asked why the coverage for the 80+ age group in Estonia is relatively low - just over 50 percent, while the coverage for the 70-79 group stands at 59 percent, as of Monday.

"The problem is the general tendency of elderly people getting inoculated. The same rule also stands for the flu. It is not like they are eager to get vaccinated for the flu either," Saar said.

At the same time, Saar noted that he is not overly worried. "If we look at the vaccination of the elderly, the percentage is not that bad. It is 70 percent in some counties already and 50 percent and even more in general," he said.

The vaccination coordinator added that when mass vaccinations are opened in May and June for younger people as well, it cannot be done by family physicians exclusively and vaccination centers must be opened. Seer confirmed that while 100,000 injections a week sounds fictional in Estonia, it is doable. "We know now that one vaccinator can do 15-20 jabs an hour," the University of Tartu Hospital chairman said.

Answering a question on the AstraZeneca vaccines, linked to rare blood clots, Seer said time will show how many vaccines will be used for primary doses going forward, but second doses will still be administered.

"It is possible that they will remain unused, there is a chance of that happening. But it is realizable and doable in the 60+ age group," Seer said.

Speaking about the low vaccination tempo and coverage in Ida-Viru County, the vaccinations chief hopes that the Pfizer vaccine is more suitable for the people there.

He also called people to go for vaccinations, regardless of the improving spring weather. "Do not let this warm sunshine take you into a state of lethargy, come get vaccinated if your time has come," Seer said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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