Ida-Viru County elderly vaccinations progressing poorly

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Estonia's first COVID-19 vaccine was given to resident-doctor Jelena Rozinko in Kohtla-Järve in Ida-Viru County on December 27. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The inoculation of Ida-Viru County's elderly against the coronavirus is progressing very poorly and family physicians have said there is no major breakthrough to be expected because older people fear vaccines more than they do the coronavirus.

Large-scale vaccination drives, which brought hundreds of vaccine applicants to Narva Hospital may have left the impression of Ida-Viru County's vaccination coverage improving, but the actual situation is that only a fifth of Narva's 80+ age group is vaccinated and a third of the 70-79 age group is vaccinated.

"Most still say they are afraid. These people are not willing to get vaccinated at all right now. And the other side is still the people awaiting another vaccine, they are waiting for Sputnik (Russia's COVID-19 vaccine - ed). Family physicians and nurses find it difficult to convince them," said family physician Jelena Pitel.

Convincing people would help in the long-term, but the most effective motivator could be fear of death, the doctor noted. "If the percentage of infection keeps growing and people die, perhaps that can change peoples' opinions," Pitel said.

Family physicians have turned into annoying salespeople and constant vaccine invitations leaves people cold. "People look at it like the Beirut bombings and think that something is going on somewhere, but it will not happen to them and that is that. The typical response is that I am already old and sick, what will I gain from vaccination. The only thing is that they are wearing masks now," family physician Stanislav Fetissov noted.

As of Tuesday morning, 23.46 percent of Estonia's population is vaccinated against COVID-19. Ida-Viru County has the lowest rate of coverage in Estonia at 15.12 percent, 6 percentage points down from Harju County at 21.17 percent. Every other Estonian county has achieved at least 25 percent vaccination coverage among its residents.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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