Prime minister: Estonia lacked experience with vaccination of adults

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Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said at an extraordinary sitting of the Riigikogu's State Budget Control Select Committee on Monday that Estonia as an Eastern European state did not have any previous experience with the vaccination of adults before the COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Kallas said that while the situation is new for everyone, Western European states have previous experience with vaccinating adults whereas Eastern European countries do not, and Estonia, too has had to come up with new ways for organizing the immunization drive.

"We have created options for bringing the vaccination drive closer to people through the provision of walk-in vaccinations," Kallas said, adding that the option is first and foremost geared at people whose level of digital literacy is not sufficient for booking an appointment for vaccination online.

Kallas said that the state has organized an extensive communication campaign and also launched cooperation with local governments. She highlighted Tartu, where the number of vaccinated people is growing sharply.

Vaccination coverage among teachers is surprisingly good at nearly 70 percent, according to Kallas. "The government is planning to discuss on Thursday the provision of instruction in schools, including isolation obligations and how to better organize the work of schools," she said.

The vaccination of young people is planned to be carried out in cooperation with schools at the start of the academic year. "Schools have also expressed their readiness because everyone is interested in schools being open and children being able to go to school," the prime minister said.

Auditor General Janar Holm said at the committee sitting that there is a sufficient amount of vaccines in Estonia with 155,000 doses available in storage and 38,000 more doses about to arrive this week.

Holm noted that vaccination is carried out on the basis of a plan and the biggest problem was the lack of an updated plan until Friday last week. A new plan has since been made available, however. "The level of ambition in these plans can always be disputed, but in any case, the plans are measurable," Holm said.

Weekly overviews presented to the government by Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik should be much clearer and more detailed in terms of looking to the future, he added. "Greater flexibility is needed in vaccination, which means that the vaccines need to be driven to people instead of hoping for the opposite," Holm said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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