The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) have dismissed 46 staff members who refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, many of whom had served their country in foreign missions, albeit in destinations which required vaccination against other illnesses.
EDF spokesperson Capt. Taavi Karotamm said that: "To date, 46 staff members have been released from the defense forces for not presenting the required [vaccination] certificate."
"30 of them were active duty personnel and 16 were civilian employees. There were eight officers among those dismissed from service," Capt. Karotamm went on.
Of those dismissed, 13 people had been involved in foreign operations in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Lebanon and in Mali, all of which theaters required vaccinations against hepatitis A and hepatitis B, as well as several other diseases, in some cases, including typhoid, rabies and yellow fever.
Initially, 65 people had refused to present proof of vaccination, meaning 19 of these opted to get a vaccination for whatever reason.
Capt. Karotamm said that this reason had been EDF persuasion. "The information events and personal counseling provided by the EDF helped alleviate people's fears and the impact of misconceptions."
"Several staff members who initially announced their wish not to present the proof, decided to opt for vaccination and presenting their certificate after having consulted with medical specialists," he added.
Those dismissed would have been aware that this was to be the only outcome of continued refusal to get vaccinated.
EDF commander Lt. Gen. Martin Herem had, after being instructed by the government to do so, ordered an analysis of coronavirus risks in the forces. All staff members were instructed to familiarize themselves with the analysis, and present either proof of vaccination, of having started a vaccination course, or the reasons why they cannot get immunized.
Herem had also called the number of vaccine refuseniks overly large, and also said that the EDF could potentially lose up to 40 percent of its combat readiness, due to the overall effects of the virus.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) had said in September that noone had been dismissed from the EDF for vaccine refusal, up to that point in time, while the annual October intake of conscripts saw only vaccinated persons accepted.
Editor: Andrew Whyte