Health Insurance Fund trying to replace ruined vaccines

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Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) office. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) is working to find replacements for more than 70,000 ruined vaccines and medicines after a cold storage unit broke down.

Kirsi Pruudel, Health Board media relations specialist, said all the vaccines and medicines in the cold store are likely to be written off for safety reasons. These include vaccines for children and adolescents in the national immunization plan, vaccines for adults, covid-19 vaccines and other medicines. 

She said these were for time-critical vaccines such as tuberculosis, rabies, rotavirus, diphtheria and tetanus. Other warehouses have stocks of tuberculosis and tetanus for one and a half to two months and stocks of rabies vaccine for about one year.

Pruudel said family doctors are aware there may be short-term problems with ordering children's vaccines and that vaccinations should be postponed until a new batch arrives. 

"According to experts, a short delay in vaccinating children and adolescents will not affect the achievement of immunity," she said.

Negotiations with suppliers are ongoing

Head of the EHIF's Medicines and Medical Devices Department Erki Laidmäe said negotiations with manufacturers and suppliers have taken place since last week. 

"To a large extent, today's solutions and the arrival of supplies cover an urgent need. It must be taken into account that vaccines are not completely out of stock due to write-offs - hospitals and the county level also have a certain amount of stock," Laidmäe told ERR.

He said replacements of rotavirus and tuberculosis vaccines should reach Estonia by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. Agreements are expected for the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines by July and more will be made for rabies in August. Some vaccines are already covered by valid contracts.  

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Editor: Helen Wright

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