Vaccination chief: Vaccine tourism is likely ending

Marek Seer.
Marek Seer. Source: ERR

Marek Seer, head of the COVID-19 vaccination work group, said the time of people travelling from Tallinn and Harju County to other regions to receive a vaccination is likely to end.

Seer told ETV's political interview show "Esimene stuudio" that the government has kept it promise to allow everyone get a vaccine from a location close to their home. "You can get free vaccines close to home. Mass vaccination centers are in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Ida-Viru County, there are vaccination points from Võru to Kuressaare, Kuressaare to Narva."

He noted that people have had to drive from Tallinn to Narva or Tartu to get inoculated, since the demand for vaccines was greater than supply in the early moments of general vaccination.

"I am somewhat worried that there were 2,000 free time slots as of [Thursday] morning. This so-called vaccine tourism is likely ending. And it is understandable in some way because you drive somewhere where you expect to receive a vaccine. And as I have said earlier, I believe this 50 percent (vaccine coverage - ed) will be reached quickly and signs point to us getting there rather well," Seer said.

He said the government has not made mistakes with vaccination planning. "We are making a tailor-made suit. It is a very unique thing. There has never been such mass vaccinations conducted. The situation would have been completely different if vaccine shipments were greater. They are still relatively unstable today, there were not as many vaccines as there were initial applicants," Seer noted.

"So I cannot say there have been mistakes. We have actually progressed pretty well," he added.

Seer said that if there are enough vaccines at one point, it is possible that people who have received their first vaccine injection far from home can get their second jab closer to home, but it is not likely to happen soon.

"I do not see such an option now, because the workflow is so planned and vaccine shipment uncertainties are such that, yeah /.../ you have to drive where you got your first dose," he said.

"If there are enough vaccines, it is considerable for the future. But I think everyone who has taken on the vaccination journey will have their second injection before we can live in such luxury," Seer added.

Work migrants could get inoculated with Janssen vaccine on ferries, but there are not enough

Responding to show host Mirko Ojakivi's question about work migration, Seer said that since there are open vaccination time slots ( in the Patient Portal - ed), people could still get vaccinated over the summer.

He added that the state has not rejected a proposal from the private sector to vaccinate people travelling to Finland for work in ferries.

"The state has not said 'no'. The idea has substance. But the question is that it should be done with the Janssen vaccine. But since there are not enough Janssens, it cannot be brought to life right away. I would say it is doable with Janssen, but there are no Janssens. So the call for people to register and go vaccinate still stands," Seer said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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