Experts see no need for third vaccine jabs yet

Vaccination in Lasnamäe.
Vaccination in Lasnamäe. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Even though residents show interest in third vaccine doses, several experts say it is too soon to go down that path. People in certain risk groups, such as those with immunodeficiency, getting a third shot this year cannot be ruled out.

Le Vallikivi, head of the Estonian Family Medicine Association, said that vaccinated people and essential workers coming down with COVID-19 has made people anxious and led to questions concerning third doses.

"Interest in third doses has been shown by risk group patients and ordinary people who have received two doses or have recovered from Covid and received a single dose of vaccine," Vallikivi said.

Andres Merits, professor of applied virology at the University of Tartu, said that third doses are as yet unnecessary.

"Giving everyone a third dose today would be like constructing a six-lane highway from Tallinn to Mäo in a situation where we would first need a four-lane one from there to Tartu," the professor said.

He added, however, that there seems to be no scientific or medical reasons not to administer third shots. For example, as concerns people with immunodeficiency and those jabbed more than six months ago.

"Without any top-down ban, I see no reason to avoid them," Merits said.

He added that no additional risks have been associated with third doses so far. "While a third jab does provide a stronger immune response."

Head of Estonia's COVID-19 scientific advisory council Irja Lutsar said that no vaccine has been registered as requiring three doses in the European Union so far. It also remains unknown who would need third doses and using which of the available vaccines. It also remains unknown when the European Medicines Agency (EMA) could greenlight third doses.

"The pharmaceutical manufacturer would need to file an application first. My information suggests they plan to do that in August. After that, we can calculate how long the process might take," Lutsar said.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik said that the ministry is also waiting for EMA decisions. The minister added that Estonia is set to take delivery of 2.6 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and a few hundred thousand doses of Moderna vaccines for additional jabs.

"The entire population will not be revaccinated this year. The question is whether certain target groups could be given third shots ahead of schedule."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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