Last Thursday, the Estonian government decided to donate an additional up to 265,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries. Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) stressed that everyone in Estonia should still get vaccinated and boosted against the COVID-19 virus.
"COVID-19 vaccine stocks was one topic discussed at last week's meeting of EU health ministers," Kiik said according to a Ministry of Social Affairs press release. "Due to long-term contracts, European countries' vaccine stocks are growing, but they are also difficult to donate, as many countries with low vaccination rates have insufficient capacity for the organization of vaccinations and vaccine logistics. We need to organize these donations sooner rather than later to ensure as long a shelf life as possible for the vaccines and in turn greater flexibility in receiving countries to organize vaccinations."
According to the ministry's data, approximately 1760,000 doses of COVID vaccines are currently being held at healthcare providers' premises, and another some 514,000 doses are in storage at the Health Board. Of the vaccine doses at the Health Board, the Estonian government decided to earmark 180,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine meant for those aged 12 and up, 60,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine meant for those aged 5-11 and 25,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine for donation.
Thus far, a total of 2.6 million doses of COVID vaccines have arrived in Estonia. Another 1.5 million vaccine doses are also scheduled to arrive this year.
"It would still be wise for everyone in Estonia to make the health-conscious decision and get themselves vaccinated for free," Kiik stressed. "COVID-19 has unfortunately not disappeared from Estonia or Europe, and so it remains of critical importance that people get vaccinated and boosted on time."
Estonia has been contributing vaccine donations primarily via the COVAX Facility, an international vaccine procurement platform aimed at helping reduce inequality in and improving global access to COVID vaccines. It has previously earmarked a total of 1,395,100 doses of COVID vaccines for donation via COVAX, as well as bilaterally sent 52,800 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine to Ukraine last July.
Editor: Aili Vahtla