Vaccine refusals in Ida-Viru County overburdening intensive care units

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

Although general infection and hospitalization indicators are in a downward trend, the highest level intensive care units are still overburdened. A large contribution is made by Ida-Viru County, where elderly people tend to refuse vaccines and think the disease is lighter than vaccine side effects.

Third-level intensive care necessity remains on a stable and high level and there is no downward trend in the near future to come. Intensive care wards in northern Estonia and Tallinn are still very full, head of the government's scientific council Irja Lutsar noted.

A worrying situation has developed in Ida-Viru County, however, where just a quarter of 80+ people are inoculated with the rest refusing vaccination, thinking the virus is lighter than possible vaccine side effects.

"I do not understand why people think so either if we look at the figures we have in Estonia. The University of Tartu Hospital services the most serious patients from Ida-Viru County, there are a few people admitted to intensive care from Ida-Viru County each day," Lutsar said, adding that since the mortality rate in intensive care 30-40 percent, it is not too difficult a calculation to figure out how many patients never come out. A long aftercare process will come either way and the patient might not ever recover.

"You cannot compare the coronavirus to vaccinations at all. We are speaking of a very clear syndrome when it comes to the AstraZeneca vaccine, causing blood clots along with thrombocytopenia. I have seen one case, which has been for a person over the age of 60 and that is in all of Europe. So this is very rare in Europe, a very specific syndrome. By now, we know which syndrome we are dealing with and if we know what we are dealing with, we can treat it," Lutsar said.

The virology professor admitted that she does not understand the elderly of Ida-Viru County, more so as the AstraZeneca vaccine is quite similar to their desired Sputnik vaccine, there just is far less information about the Russian Sputnik vaccine.

"I do not know how to make it clear to people that this vaccination is very important if we want to get rid of this pandemic. Otherwise this can last for years, similar to the winter we just had," Lutsar noted.

The risk of mortality, on the other hand, increases with age. "Older people, but not necessarily only for them, are under great danger to get infected and die," Lutsar emphasized.

"A large part of hospitalized patients are 60+. If those people would not get seriously ill, they also would not go to the hospital, they would not overburden our healthcare system and we could open society even more," the scientific council head added.

At the same time, older people can also help protect schoolchildren who have still not been given an option to get vaccinated. "Grandparents actually help their grandchildren by letting them go to school and get a good education," Lutsar noted.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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