Martin Kadai: High vaccination coverage should not be a goal in itself

Martin Kadai.
Martin Kadai. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Former Health Board emergency medicine chief and current legal adviser to the justice chancellor Martin Kadai said there is not much reason to chase a high number of vaccinated people in itself and that it is much more important to make sure that risk groups are vaccinated instead.

Kadai, who organized vaccinations at the Health Board for years, told Vikerraadio's morning show "Vikerhommik" on Wednesday that he was surprised by the amount of people willing to get vaccinated in Estonia. He said he was worried that a lack of interest would arrive earlier.

Kadai said quantity is not the most important thing for vaccinations, but also who ends up getting vaccinated. Since infection tends to come with more serious consequences in some population groups, mainly the elderly, it is more effective if the majority of the risk group is vaccinated.

"I would not set getting the vaccination rate as high as possible as a goal in itself," Kadai emphasized. "We can vaccinate every young person, but if the risk group is left unvaccinated and we can expect that this illness will not disappear, it will eventually reach the risk group sooner or later."

The expert said the coronavirus might just be here to stay forever. "Perhaps we can go with the scientific hypothesis, which states that this specific coronavirus will become a yearly occurrence, such as seasonal viruses, including four known coronaviruses."

Since Estonia has missed its targets for vaccination rates, Kadai said the focus should now be on finding the obstacles and issues behind why the elderly population and people in risk groups are not eager to get vaccinated.

He noted that there is no singular answer for why people do not understand the need to protect themselves and others from the virus and the entire world is facing the same issue. Part of it stems from behavioral psychology, the general maturity of society and historical background, Kadai said.

Kadai said people being forced to get vaccinated during Soviet rule and now exercising their freedom of choice is not too strong a reason. He assessed that the vaccination willingness is connected to an individual's trust for the state and society. He pointed to more successful countries in terms of vaccination, in which vaccinations are still voluntary, but where trust levels are higher than in Estonia.

He commented on his current position as the legal adviser for the justice chancellor by saying the number one topic in the office is still the coronavirus. "Many people have been left in complicated situations thanks to the coronavirus. That is where the drawbacks of these restrictions come out, things that were not thought of when drawing them up," Kadai said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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