Education minister Liina Kersna (Reform) has called for a renewed drive on vaccinations in schools, universities and other educational institutions, ahead of the new academic year starting at the beginning of September.
Kersna said that: "The action plan foresees that by the end of the first two months of the academic year, we will have at least 70 percent of young people aged 16-17 and 90 percent of teachers, educators and youth workers vaccinated with at least one dose.
"We need to make our contribution to protect the education sector and society as a whole from the virus," Kersna added, BNS reports.
The plan will instill the required legal basis for performing vaccinations and testing in schools and other educational institutions, as well as for the exchange of data and obtaining consent for vaccination, additional training for school health care providers and organizing the supply and distribution of vaccines.
Additional funding for school health services will also be provided, so that school staff, non-stationary students and adult learners can also benefit from vaccination and testing opportunities.
The plan is to be implemented in August and September, to coincide with the start of the new school year, and in cooperation between the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) and the Health Board (Terviseamet).
Special attention is to be placed on vaccination awareness, BNS reports, with clearly worded and science-based information materials in mind for all target groups.
Informed consent for parents of schoolchildren about to be vaccinated by the school nurse, vaccination days in school, updates for local authorities and the collation of data on the Vaktsineeri.ee site are also components of the plan, as is additional, easier and more convenient vaccination options.
More than a hundred educational institutions are on board with the vaccinations days scheme, most of them ahead of the new school year.
As of late July 72 percent of staff in educational institutions were vaccinated, with those in higher education (83 percent) topping the table, followed by primary and secondary school staff (75 percent), vocational schools (73 percent) and then kindergartens (61 percent).
The overall vaccination picture for schoolchildren and students varies geographically, Kersna noted – for instance in Tartu County, 66 percent of young people aged 16-17 have already been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared with 50 percent for Harju County, 31 percent in Valga County and 21 percent in Ida-Viru County.
The drive is key in making sure schools can start the year with in-class learning instead of the remote learning in place much of the time from March 2020, Kersna added.
The minister had already committed to contact learning for the 2021-2022 academic year, citing studies which said remote learning harmed children's educational progress.
The education ministry vaccination plan was prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs, BNS reports.
Editor: Andrew Whyte