Family doctors' anti-coronavirus vaccinations have not gained much traction, despite averaging 150 shots per day in the last two months. This figure nonetheless accounted for less than a tenth of all primary vaccinations.
According to Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) statistics, a total of 9,009 primary coronavirus injections were performed by family doctors in August and September. When divided by the 61 days, that makes 148 injections a day. A total of 89,000 primary vaccinations were given in August, and 32,000 in September.
The share of protective injections issued by family doctors was almost 7.5 percent.
Helgi Luik, a family doctor practicing in Antsla, stated that the interest in vaccination has been lukewarm lately. Two-thirds of the 1,200 people on her list have been vaccinated. Two-thirds of those over the age of 80 have also been vaccinated.
Le Vallikivi, the chairwoman of the board of the Estonian Family Medicine Association, also stated that the more time passes, the more difficult it is to find people interested in vaccination.
"I also made about a dozen phone calls yesterday and unfortunately no people interested in vaccination came from there," Vallikivi said.
It is difficult to persuade those who have decided not to vaccinate.
Maivi Parv, a member of the board of the Health Insurance Fund, stated that the share of vaccinated people among the elderly is still small. The biggest concerns are still in Sillamäe and Narva Ida-Virumaa and Maardu and Lasnamäe in Harju County.
Parv said that the coverage of family doctor lists in Ida-Virumaa is 41 to 80 percent. There are also lists in Lasnamäe and Maardu where less than half of the elderly have been vaccinated.
Parv: These areas must be assisted.
"Here it is, it has been through media before, but so to speak, a project of calling people in the Ida-Virumaa region, where there's a call center to help. The family doctor themselves gives the data of the people on their list to the call center, which will help to make the calls. The result is that if a person makes a vaccination decision, the call center will already book the vaccination time for him," Parv said.
Parv said that this project has now been extended to Valga County and Võru County. Medical students are also expected to help.
Irja Lutsar, head of the government's coronavirus advisory council, said that a very large number of the elderly population is still unvaccinated. The Health Board (Terviseamet) 73 percent of people aged 60 and over have been vaccinated at least once.
Lutsar said that family doctors play a central role in vaccinating the elderly population.
"These vaccination centers have been open all summer and I imagine that they are not very close to home. And maybe an older person doesn't want to go to a vaccination center where he doesn't know anyone. But he still knows the family doctor. Tallinn is, after all, a big city, people didn't want to travel by bus for a very long time, most of the elderly still do not drive by themselves," Lutsar added.
Lutsar said that the rate of vaccination has not increased much at the moment.
"I would say there is room for improvement. 1.3 million doses have been given so far. Yes, no one is saying that vaccines have no side effects, but they are very minimal and very rare cases only," she said.
While in September about a thousand people a day were vaccinated, on better days injection rates were several times higher.
Editor: Roberta Vaino