50,000 people must be vaccinated to hit September target

AstraZeneca  vaccine.
AstraZeneca vaccine. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonia is on course to miss the coronavirus vaccination goal set for September with 50,000 people still needing a jab to reach the 70 percent coverage target.

With 65.5 percent of adults in Estonia having received at least one dose, the country is not far off the target. But 50,000 more people must be jabbed by the September 22 deadline.

Experts told ETV's weekly current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera. Nädal" on Sunday that this is not possible given Estonia's current vaccination rate.

Board member of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund's Maivi Parv said the pace of vaccination has slowed in recent weeks and by September 22 coverage is forecast to be 67 percent. Fewer than 10,000 people a week were vaccinated with a first dose over the last fortnight.

"We probably won't reach it [the target] by the end of September either," she said.

So far, coverage has only exceeded 70 percent in two of Estonia's 15 counties - Tartu and Hiiu. While it is above 67 percent in seven others, Valga and Võru counties have not yet reached 60 percent and Ida-Viru County is still below 50 percent.

"Last week we were satisfied with Harju County [64.2 percent], we were also satisfied with Ida-Viru County [49.96 percent], where it [vaccination] was faster than average," Parv said, but added the pace needs to quicken in Pärnu, Järva and Lääne counties.

Parv said supply is not an issue as there are many places to get vaccinated across Estonia. The biggest problem is fear.

Anstassia Jasevitš, a vaccinator at West Tallinn Central Hospital which is running a pop-up clinic in Tallinn's Kristiine keskus mall, told AK: "Quite a few people are not afraid of injections, they are afraid of side effects. Somewhere they have heard that something had happened to some person or another."

The most common question is about the risk of thrombosis, she said, adding hospital staff are always happy to talk to people about their concerns. Jasevitš said 500 people were vaccinated at the pop-up clinic last week and they were mostly office workers.

Family doctors have also resumed vaccinations after the closure of mass vaccination centers in August.

Family doctor Le Vallikivi told AK: "Many older ladies have also come to our center, who, despite four or five refusals in the spring, think that now is the right time."

She said the rising infection rate and the acknowledgment that friends have not experienced side effects have made many older people change their minds about vaccination.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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