Health minister: Nine-month Covid certificate validity makes sense

Tanel Kiik.
Tanel Kiik. Source: ERR

The nine-month validity period for Covid vaccination certificates which the European Commission recently proposed is reasonable, health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) told ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) Thursday evening, while what is now needed is Europe-wide consensus on the common validity period, he continued, in an interview which follows.

The European Commission caused confusion by suggesting that the validity of a vaccination certificate could be set at nine months, whereas in Estonia it is 12 months.

Actually, there is no confusion, since it was known from the outset that no one knew for sure the length of time vaccines would be effective for. There were those countries that set a 12-month limit, while some left it for an indefinite period. I think there are a lot of arguments in favor of this nine-month period.

Is Estonia on board with this?

This is an ongoing debate, but given that the protection offered by most vaccines will begin to recede in about half a year's time, and especially among the elderly, who definitely required a booster dose - also in other adults for whom it's also reasonable to get booster dose in high-risk situations; leaving the period when it's viable to issue a booster dose at between six and nine months and so that a certificate is valid and protection is guaranteed, is quite logical.

Are you going to increase the validity of a coronavirus passport from six months to, for example, nine months?

The six-month rule is currently agreed on in Europe. 

If a state wants to make a different rule for its own certificates, then this is possible, but when traveling in Europe, that certificate will not be valid beyond six months.

The focus of the debate in Europe on the vaccine certificate is currently ongoing, and in the same way discussions are also under way on proof of recovery. 

It would also be wise to have as uniform an approach and practice as is possible here.

It is sensible to agree that the virus is the same, vaccines are the same, human beings are relatively similar.

Is the second dose now being considered a booster dose in the case of those who have recovered?

In Estonia's case, we assume that those who have recovered have usually received one dose of the vaccine, but some have indeed received two; in other words the usual vaccination has been given, in which case a booster dose is the (third – ed.), which certainly still follows it.

The European Medicines Agency has recommended a coronavirus vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years, while the European Commission is evaluating that recommendation. The Estonian immunoprophylaxis commission (Eesti immunoprofülaktika komisjon) is likely to discuss it next week. Will there be different levels of restrictions in place for vaccinated and non-vaccinated children?

We have tried to protect children, but vaccination is an additional way to do so and to and prevent the virus from spreading

Naturally, we will not introduce any special rules for children under the age of 12 in a situation where the vaccine [for that age group] has not even reached the market.

Tanel Kiik was talking to Margus Saar on "Aktuaalne kaamera", November 25 2021.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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