Frozen healthcare officials need to do something
Provided the latest wave of the coronavirus does not subside, the government will eventually cave to pressure from hospitals and start restricting the daily lives of vaccinated people. Because, by then, it will be the only way to demonstrate that efforts are being made, with intimidation perhaps effective at convincing an extra few thousand people to get the shot.
The coronavirus infection rate is skyrocketing again. In truth, a new wave is rising everywhere in the Baltic Sea region, with the case rate heading up in Finland since the autumnal equinox. But what is the main difference between what is happening across the Gulf of Finland and here? In Finland, only a few people die every week, with October still without Covid casualties. In Estonia, we have already gotten used to between five and ten people dying every day. Why are Estonians dying?
Because we have roughly 100,000 people belonging to risk groups who have not been vaccinated yet. The slackening pace of vaccination mainly relies on young people.
But young and healthy people who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 or the virus spreading in schools are not the problem. Our only real concern is not having immunized enough people in risk groups. The daily mortality rate suggests that problem has been solved in Finland.
The situation is reflected in family doctors' inability to communicate with patients as the former are responsible for fewer than 10 percent of vaccines administered in September. We were told throughout summer that family doctors should get some rest and that they will get back to convincing risk group patients to get the shot come fall. A fool's hope, it now turns out.
Heads of the Ministry of Social Affairs are wringing their hands, saying they have done almost everything that can be done to bring vaccination closer to people and much rather spend press conferences talking about booster doses.
They have also been saying for weeks now how the people of Finland trust their country. Which is tragicomic coming from Estonian public officials. The new ministry undersecretary just smiles and says that everyone needs to make an effort whenever they are asked a serious question.
No new openings can be seen, no attempts to try and find new possibilities, and also fail, as you cannot fail if you're not doing anything. The powers that be seem to suffer from an inexplicable stupor even when it is suggested the carrot could be more effective than the stick. Whereas I'm not one to believe it is a problem of stinginess.
Why not consider paying the elderly to get vaccinated, following the example of Lithuania? At least discuss it with behavioral scientists. Make at least a single attempt in a county center sporting a poor vaccination rate, such as Valga. To pay every elderly person willing to be vaccinated €100 in cash on the spot. How much would it cost to vaccinate everyone in risk groups? Just €10 million!
Excuse me, but how much are we currently spending on testing and what is the extent of damage caused by existing measures? Not to mention hospital expenses and the fact hundreds of people who would survive were they vaccinated will be lost this fall and winter.
What will collectively wringing our hands culminate in? Provided the latest wave of the coronavirus does not subside, the government will eventually cave to pressure from hospitals and start restricting the daily lives of vaccinated people. Because, by then, it will be the only way to demonstrate that efforts are being made, with intimidation perhaps effective at convincing an extra few thousand people to get the shot. We saw enough of that last winter. Maybe we don't need to see any more?
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Editor: Marcus Turovski