A 1+1 vaccination strategy will start in Ida-Viru County today (April 29) to try and boost the low uptake of vaccines among the elderly. This means if a young person brings an older person to get vaccinated, they can both receive a dose at the same time.
Vaccination coverage in Ida-Viru County is by far the lowest in Estonia. As of Thursday morning, only 26.8 percent of people over the age of 80 and 38.6 percent of people aged 70-79 have been vaccinated in the county. In most other counties at least 65 percent of people in these age groups have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The government is now ready to introduce new measures to increase the uptake, ETV's evening news program "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Wednesday.
Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said the elderly can expect to be contacted by telephone, through e-channels and by local government social workers. A mass vaccination session will also be held this weekend to encourage people.
Kiik said: "One option is to try 1 + 1 - the younger person will have the opportunity to be vaccinated if they bring the elderly to be vaccinated."
Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will be used because these vaccines can be used for everybody, whereas AstraZeneca currently cannot be given to the under 50s.
Head of the government's vaccination program Marek Seer told AK: "Starting tomorrow (Wednesday - ed.) You could call your mother, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, take them with you and get vaccinated. Older people over the age of 70 are especially welcome. /.../ You can also bring a neighbor, but the condition must be that the neighbor agrees."
Vaccination can be booked online on the digital registry via the Patient Portal and people can be vaccinated by family doctors, hospitals and at private health care institutions.
The 1+1 scheme is currently only open to residents in Ida-Viru County and there are no firm plans to use it elsewhere yet.
"We are focusing on Ida-Viru County. One of the weighting factors was that the coverage of younger people in Ida-Viru County's risk groups is also low," Marek Seer said but did not rule out using it elsewhere if it works well.
General vaccination to open on May 17
From Monday (May 3), anyone over the age of 50 in Estonia will be able to get vaccinated.
Tanel Kiik said if the vaccine delivery schedules are met, vaccination of the whole population will open on May 17. This week 127,000 doses of vaccine were delivered.
When the digital registry opens, you can sign up through the Patient Portal (Digilugu). An Estonian ID code is needed to make an appointment.
Read more about Estonia's coronavirus vaccination process in ERR New's FAQ article.
Editor: Helen Wright