Andero Uusberg, affective psychology associate professor at the University of Tartu and government scientific council member, told ERR that since coronavirus vaccinations have essentially become a way to enter clubs, it determines groups which people belong to and that does not help with increasing the percentage of vaccinated people.
The current restrictions on people who are not vaccinated should be removed, Uusberg said. A package of justified benefits should not be discriminating anyone.
"All people should have the possibility to do important activities," Uusberg said. "Maybe these possibilities should be a little more uncomfortable for unvaccinated people, but that is it."
"If we were to speak more concretely, then I think a version of the vaccination certificate meets the criterion, which was valid before the third wave when it was possible to participate in certain activities through vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test result," Uusberg said. "And the system would be even better if the tests were cheaper in Estonia. In that case, we would be in an equilibrium point where we couldn't say that someone is discriminated."
It is currently clear that it is not possible to participate in all important activities when getting tested, Uusberg said. "It is not this soft nudge, it is the kind of crisis measure that should be removed as the crisis mitigates. A separate question is when we can talk about this crisis easing in the light of its own micro-strain. "
Uusberg said that the omissions made in organizing vaccinations have cost a few percent in vaccination levels. The analysis of the mistakes made in the organization of vaccination in society at large has remained superficial and intellectually lazy, he said.
"It seems to us that if only better people worked in the Ministry of Social Affairs, the situation would be fundamentally different. I have not heard many good arguments to prove this. This movement in Estonia where vaccination was started from the risk groups was definitely right," Uusberg said.
"When vaccines became available, we moved to vaccination centers, it also seemed strategically right, because the family doctor network could no longer serve that capacity. But even within that dynamic, we now see the places where tactical mistakes occurred," the professor said.
Uusberg mentioned as a mistake that the distribution of vaccines among family doctors did not take into account the number of risk groups on the family doctors' list for a long time. Also, the fact that the move from the family doctor system to vaccination centers somehow resulted in personal insults.
"These are examples of organizational aspects that, if there were fewer of them, we would certainly have gained more people willing to get vaccinated because research on vaccination behavior consistently shows that vaccination comfort, simplicity, and comprehensibility are even more important than people's attitudes," Uusberg said.
As of mid-December, 60 percent of Estonians have been vaccinated with two doses.
Editor: Roberta Vaino