Prime minister hits out at pace of coronavirus vaccination in Estonia

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Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The pace of vaccination against coronavirus in Estonia is currently too slow, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) says. Changes may be needed at management level to resolve the issue, she adds.

Speaking at the traditional government press conference Thursday, Kallas said that: "There really are too many problems with vaccinations, and the pace is too slow. We are not happy with the outlook."

The Health Board's (Terviseamet) own data reveals over 552,000 people in Estonia have received a full course of vaccine doses, with over 630,00 having received at least one dose. Estonia's population is a little over 1.3 million, meaning around 48 percent of the populace has been vaccinated against the virus.

This compares with close to 70 percent for Finland all told, though the figure for those who have completed the course is reportedly lower, at a little under 32 percent.

Kallas added that she had: "Also talked to the Minister of Health and Labor [Tanel Kiik] about it several times. In my opinion, leading officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs have not been able to offer new solutions for some time, in order to accelerate the pace.

The prime minister had announced she was searching for answers on the issue earlier this week, from the health minister specifically; the latter said that an updated vaccination plan would be published later this week.

Kallas herself only got her first vaccine does on Wednesday. Since she had contracted the virus in March, she had followed medical professionals' recommendations to wait around six months after recovery, before getting inoculated.

Kallas added that it was clear that management-level changes were needed, and that the near future would reveal how and when this would happen.

Health minister: Let's focus on solutions not culpability

Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) spoke right after the prime minister at Thursday's press conference, and said that searching for solutions was more important than finding culprits.

Bottlenecks need to be identified, including those which may have been responsible for varying vaccination rates in different counties. "The pace could be even faster, but this requires both free vaccination times and those who are willing to take them," Kiik said.

Vaccination coverage among the elderly has consistently been lagging behind in Ida-Viru County, according to the Health Board.

As to the proposed personnel changes, Kiik said that: "Some changes have already been made and are coming in August-September," adding that h would not say who exactly, though mentioned the posts of social affairs ministry undersecretary (Maris Jesse was recently replaced in this role by Heidi Alasepp - ed.) and that of vaccination chief (Marek Seer - ed.).

"We are also waiting for the reports of the Health Board's cold storage incident, and the problem areas and liability issues. These must be looked as a whole," Kiik said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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