The growth in coronavirus infection rates has been at record levels over recent weeks and Estonia must improve its vaccination pace, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said at a government press conference on Monday.
Kiik said that when looking at data from previous weeks, the coronavirus infection rates have nearly doubled each week. He specified that 14-day infection rates can cause a false illusion for infection spread and the rise in infections can be more clearly seen from weekly data.
"Last week, the number of vaccinated people to receive at least one dose grew by nearly 20,000. This is an average result, we actually wanted more. The number was a little higher the week prior so we must improve our tempo," Kiik said.
The minister commented on the new nationwide vaccination plan and noted that there are plans to vaccinate 80 percent of people in the 60+ age group and more focus will be turned on vaccinating people aged 12-17.
He explained that the state is also drawing up a re-vaccination plan, but it is still unknown when Estonians will get the chance to go for a third dose.
Vaccinations available at family physicians, pharmacies, vaccination buses and vaccination cabinets
Head of the COVID-19 vaccination workgroup Marek Seer explained that there are more than 14,500 unregistered vaccination time slots available across Estonia this week. Times are available in all counties except for Harju County.
Seer recommended people register for vaccinations through the Patient Portal or by calling 1247. At the same time, Seer said registering is not necessary, but it will speed the process along.
Vaccinations are also available in pharmacies in larger cities and in vaccination cabinets that work five days a week with one day always falling on the weekend.
Rain Laane, board chair of the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa), said there will be four such cabinets in Harju County, three in Ida-Viru County and two in Tartu County. The remaining counties will have a single vaccination cabinet and one will be created in Hiiu County during the week.
Laane said maintaining the cabinet will cost €13,200 a month, meaning the program will cost around €600,000 for August and September.
Health Insurance Fund to pay bonuses to healthcare workers
Laane pointed out that if family physicians reach 70 percent vaccine coverage in their registry, they will be paid €500 in performance pay. He added that the bonus could also go to the nurses conducting the vaccinations.
€500 will be paid to family physicians in Ida-Viru County who achieve 60 percent coverage in their respective registry. In case a registry in Ida-Viru County reaches 70 percent coverage, the provider will be rewarded with €1,000.
The fund will begin paying €50 bonuses to family physicians, nurses and special treatment providers for every 20 administered vaccines. Larger hospitals conducting vaccinations will receive €2.20 per each vaccine dose if the vaccine coverage reaches 70 percent by the beginning of fall.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste