While vaccination against the coronavirus has seldom been out of the headlines since doses started arriving in Estonia at the end of last year, the drive to get the elderly vaccinated in particular is being replicated under a new scheme which will allow over-65s to get inoculated against influenza, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Sunday evening.
Stocks started arriving half-way through last month, ahead of the traditional 'flu season, but up until now getting a shot had cost €20 at private clinics, ERR reports.
Külli Friedemann, head of the Health Insurance Fund's (Haigekassa) primary services department, told AK that: "It is important to note that the paid vaccine, which is being offered for a fee, has already arrived in Estonia but that people of this age know that they should wait a while until the vaccine arrives in Estonia and can be done through a family doctor for free."
She also recommended that all elderly people who have chronic health issues get vaccinated against 'flu, and inform their family doctor of their desire to do so.
"Everyone who turns 65 this year, even if their birthday is December 31, are welcome to the state-funded influenza vaccination," she added.
The scheme costs the state €1.3 million, AK reported, while doses total 80,000.
The original consignments which arrived in September got snapped up by the private sector, but the state is hoping that this new procurement will be sufficiently taken up and that the target groups are informed of the option.
One family doctor, Argo Lätt, told AK in actuality this would lead to around a third of the senior citizens' demographic getting vaccinated.
Lätt said: "It is estimated that one third could receive a free vaccine from the state. This assumption comes from other countries, such as Latvia and Lithuania. When their immunization program was introduced, so many from the target group also got vaccinated. There is no point in bringing large quantities of vaccines into the country if these are not going to be taken up."
The new doses will be distributed in proportion to the size of a family doctor's patient list, the Health Board's (Terviseamet) infectious diseases department chief, Hanna Sepp, said.
A nasally-administered flu vaccine for children will also arrive in Estonia soon and be made available, for the first time, AK reported.
Editor: Andrew Whyte