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COVID-19

Estonia has set itself the aim of making the COVID-19 vaccination available to all Estonian residents in 2021, and to achieving the vaccination of the highest possible share of the population. It is very important to protect the most vulnerable residents in Estonia and those individuals who are included in risk groups.

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Vaccinating children

The body of each child is protected by their immune system. It is in our power to strengthen this system even more, taking into account the characteristics of a child’s immune system.

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Vaccination of adults

An average adult is exposed to thousands of pathogens daily. The immune system, which works continuously and imperceptibly, protects the body from those pathogens.

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For healthcare workers

Healthcare workers professionals play a very important role in conducting vaccination. The information and explanations received from them affect people's decisions, and the feedback and statistics collected help direct vaccination policies.

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COVID-19 vaccination in Estonia

COVID-19 vaccination in Estonia

Vaccination in Estonia will be voluntary. The first goal is to protect the most vulnerable people in Estonia. In order to organise vaccination, it is primarily planned to use already operating systems – hospitals, nursing homes, and family health centres.

Read more » 

Vaccine development

COVID-19 vaccines are currently being developed by a number of large companies and universities around the world. 
Vaccines are developed in accordance with the same rules and quality requirements as other medicines, including vaccines.

Read more » 

Ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines

All vaccines are evaluated by scientists and agencies who are responsible for ensuring that they meet all the requirements for quality, safety, and efficacy. Only vaccines that meet all EU and Estonian requirements may be used in the European Union, including Estonia.

Read more » 

 

On this page, you will find the official and latest information of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the State Agency of Medicines, and the Health Board on coronavirus vaccines and vaccination organisation in Estonia.

 

 The COVID-19 vaccination plan is available here »
 Information about the development of COVID-19 vaccines is available on the  Estonian State Agency of Medicines website »
Frequently asked questions about vaccination against COVID-19 are available at: https://kkk.kriis.ee/en/faq/covid19-vaccination »

 

Vaccination is probably the only real solution to control the coronavirus pandemic and return to normal life.

 

For now, the European Commission has issued a conditional marketing authorisation for the Comirnaty coronavirus vaccine which is being manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, but there are more than 200 vaccine candidates being developed worldwide. 

On 6 January, the European Commission issued a conditional marketing authorisation for the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. 

The sufficient safety and efficiency of any vaccine is checked, and marketing authorisations are issued, by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Europe. 

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Vaccination in Estonia

The Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine which has been produced by Pfizer/Biontech, and which is designed for the vaccination against COVID-19 of individuals who are at least sixteen years of age, was the first to arrive in Estonia, early in the morning of 26 December.

The COVID-19 vaccination programme was launched in Estonia on 27 December. Healthcare professionals at hospitals, in ambulances, and in health centres in Ida-Viru County, Tallinn, and Tartu were immunised first. Then the process will spread gradually across the whole of Estonia.

The second shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Estonia on 4 January and the third on 11 January. Both shipments included 9,750 doses of vaccine. 

 

As a priority, vaccination is provided to higher risk populations and to people who ensure the continuity of health care and social welfare:

  • Health care workers and people working in health care institutions - approx. 30,000 people,
  • Employees and residents of care institutions - approx. 25,000 people,
  • All people over the age of 70 and people with certain diagnoses - about 260,000 people.

Vaccination is then made available to the people whose work is critical for the functioning of the society:

  • frontline workers with a higher risk of infection
  • providers of essential services (within the meaning of the Emergency Act)

Vaccination is voluntary in Estonia. Each vaccination contributes to reducing the spread of the virus and returning back to regular life, and also protects those who cannot be vaccinated for various reasons.

                                                      

In 2021, vaccination against COVID-19 disease will be free of charge for everyone in Estonia.

From 2022, it would be free of charge for at-risk groups.

 

TIME

WHO CAN GET VACCINATED?

December 2020

Early in the morning of 26 December, the Estonian Health Board received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine, which contained 9,750 doses of the vaccine. 
The COVID-19 vaccination programme was launched in Estonia on 27 December, with healthcare professionals vaccinated first.

January 2021

The European Commission granted a conditional marketing authorisation to the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on 6 January 2021.

The second shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Estonia on 4 January and the third on 11 January. Both shipments included 9,750 doses of vaccine. 

I quarter of 2021

Vaccination of employees of health care institutions and care institutions and residents of care institutions.

Vaccination will be offered to people over the age of 70 and to people whose diagnosis places them in a higher risk population.

A person receives a notification from their family physician or via website eesti.ee that they are in the target group and have the opportunity to be vaccinated. They will receive a reminder notification for the second dose.

Both Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna vaccines are currently known to be dual dose vaccines. According to the interval prescribed by the manufacturer, a second injection is given after the first injection. Only after the second dose is the vaccine maximally effective. Both doses are necessary for immunity to develop. 

The second quarter of 2021

According to the plan, all applicants have the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination of children will start when a vaccine suitable for children is available.

The organisation of provision of vaccination for all those who wish to get vaccinated will be developed in the first months of 2021, considering the EU marketing authorisation for COVID-19 vaccines and the delivery schedules, i.e., when the vaccine will arrive in Estonia. 

 

Vaccination shall be carried out by doctors, nurses and midwives who have received basic and advanced training in immunisation within the last five years.

 

For COVID-19 vaccination, the same functional solutions will be applied that have been used so far in organising vaccination in Estonia. The primary vaccination sites are hospitals, family doctor centres, nursing homes, and, at a later stage, workplaces (providers of essential services; other frontline workers at higher risk of infection); infection clinics or vaccination offices.

 

The general organisation of vaccination in Estonia has been developed by the Vaccination Steering Group in cooperation with the National Expert Committee on Immunoprophylaxis. The Vaccination Steering Group includes representatives of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Estonian Health Board, the State Agency of Medicines, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, and the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre.
The Immunoprophylaxis Expert Committee is an advisory body to the Ministry of Social Affairs, which includes representatives of family physicians, paediatricians, infection specialists, immunologists and allergists.
More information: www.sm.ee/immunoprofulaktika-ekspertkomisjon

 

WHICH VACCINES WILL ESTONIA BUY?

Estonia participates in the European Union joint procurement process for the purchase of coronavirus vaccines. All 27 Member States have joined the joint procurement process. This has given us an advantage in the negotiations, because otherwise alone we would be a very small customer. A larger order quantity gives a greater leverage in the current difficult market situation.

There are currently eight vaccine manufacturers in the European Union's common vaccine portfolio with the most promising vaccine candidates. The European Commission has concluded pre-purchase agreements with six of them. A pre-emption agreement means that, after completing all the necessary studies and obtaining a marketing authorisation, the manufacturer must ensure that priority is given to a pre-emption agreement for the supply of the vaccine.

At the end of November, the Estonian government approved Estonia's accession to all seven vaccine contracts jointly procured in the EU. This helps to spread the risks if the production of a certain vaccine is unexpectedly stalled and helps to ensure that safe and effective vaccines reach the Estonian people as soon as possible.

If the vaccine passes all national and EU quality tests, then the EU can buy the vaccines, and Estonia will receive them as a priority. Estonia has now signed agreements with pharmaceutical manufacturers AstraZeneca, Jannsen Pharmaceutica NV, Pfizer / BioNTech, Curevac and Moderna. In the joint procurement of the European Union, the European Commission has also entered into an agreement with the vaccine manufacturer Sanofi, and Estonian can join this agreement later. Negotiations are also ongoing with the vaccine manufacturer Novavax.

The Pfizer/BioNTechi vaccine was authorised for marketing purposes by the European Commission on 21 December 2020. This was the first vaccine to arrive in Estonia, on 26 December. The Moderna vaccine received conditional marketing authorisation on 6 January 2021 and should be the next to arrive.

With the AstraZeneca contract, Estonia purchases COVID-19 vaccine for approx. 600,000 people, Jannsen Pharmaceutica NV for approx. 300,000 people, with the Pfizer / BioNTech contract for approx. 300,000 people, with the Curevac contract for approx. 330,000 people, with the Moderna contract for approx. 117,000 people. According to the agreements, the vaccines will be delivered to the Member States after the vaccine is granted market authorisation in the European Union.

 

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WHEN WILL THE VACCINES ARRIVE IN ESTONIA?

Vaccination against COVID-19 was launched in Estonia on 27 December. Healthcare professionals in hospitals, in ambulances, and in health centres were immunised first.

As the global demand is very high and it will take time to achieve large production numbers, a limited number of doses will most likely be sent to Estonia, as well as to other European and world countries. Current developments give hope of a broad-based vaccination over the next year.

HOW DO ESTONIAN PEOPLE REACT TO VACCINATION AGAINST COVID-19?

According to the survey, as of December, every second Estonian, i.e., 50% of the respondents, would be immediately ready to vaccinate against COVID-19. One-fifth (21%) of the respondents are uncertain.

The survey revealed that people are concerned about the safety of vaccines, which is to be expected. Almost a fifth (18%) of the population expresses uncertainty about the properties of new vaccines.

The main motives for vaccination are being part of high-risk population, and the understanding that with adequate vaccination coverage, society can return to regular life.

The general confidence in vaccination is high for people in Estonia: in 2019, the coverage of immunisation plan was over 93%.

 

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE COVID-19 VACCINE IS DEVELOPED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

COVID-19, or the coronavirus pandemic, is having a devastating effect on health care, the social sphere, and the economy. The coronavirus can cause serious illness and death. It is not known what the long-term effects of the virus will be on people of different ages and on otherwise healthy people.

Thus, safe and effective vaccines are needed to prevent the disease. The purpose of the vaccine is to trigger an immune response in the body to prevent the disease. This means that the body would recognise the pathogen immediately and start defending itself against it. It is particularly important to protect healthcare workers and the elderly or people with chronic illnesses, as they are most at risk.

 

Vaccination against COVID-19 will be voluntary in Estonia.

 

An effective COVID-19 vaccine and the protection of a sufficient number of people through vaccination will help us to return to a normal life. The main goal of providing vaccination to Estonian residents is to protect the most vulnerable people, i.e. the risk groups. They are more likely to become infected or die than others. The disease may be particularly dangerous to health care and social welfare institution workers, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, and so on. In this way, we can also protect vital service providers. The vaccination will be voluntary.

 

The risk groups were mapped in Estonia already in the summer: people with certain chronic diseases and the elderly, whose illness may have more serious consequences. In addition, health care professionals, social welfare institution workers, and residents of nursing homes, as well as vital service providers.

 

Vaccine development and ensuring safety

VACCINE DEVELOPMENT 

COVID-19 vaccines are currently being developed by a number of large companies and universities around the world. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) website has an up-to-date list of all vaccine candidates currently under development »

Vaccines are developed in accordance with the same rules and quality requirements as other medicines, including vaccines. The vaccines are first tested in a laboratory. After that, clinical trials will be conducted in which the vaccines are tested in human volunteers. These studies will help to understand how vaccines work and, most importantly, provide insight into their safety and effectiveness.

vaktsiini valjatootamise_heaks_kiitmise_etapid
Overview of the stages of vaccine development and approval (European Medicines Agency)

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ENSURING THE SAFETY OF COVID-19 VACCINES

All vaccines are evaluated by scientists and agencies who are responsible for ensuring that they meet all the requirements for quality, safety, and efficacy. Only vaccines that meet all EU and Estonian requirements may be used in the European Union, including Estonia.

The requirements for the granting of the marketing authorisation will not be lowered relaxed due to the pandemic. The European Medicines Agency has put together an expert working group to speed up the evaluation of vaccine candidates and has set up an accelerated evaluation procedure. At the same time, no concessions have been made in the evaluation criteria (safety, quality, and efficacy) and it is ensured that the decision-making is scientifically sound.  

Due to the pandemic, both the European Medicines Agency and agencies in other countries, including the Estonian State Agency of Medicines, have directed resources to speed up the usual bureaucratic processes for the evaluation and authorisation of vaccines.

vaktsiini_voimekus_inimesi_covid19_eest_kaitsta
As with any medicine, the ability of a vaccine to protect people against COVID-19 must far outweigh its potential risks or side effects.

ACCELERATED DEVELOPMENT OF VACCINES DURING THE HEALTH CRISIS

The development of COVID-19 vaccines is a global priority. Decades of experience in the development, testing, and production of vaccines are used in the development of the vaccines.
 

The quality, efficacy and safety requirements for COVID-19 vaccines are the same as for any other vaccine in the EU and will not be lowered in the context of the pandemic. The accelerated development is linked to streamlining bureaucratic and administrative processes, involving more people, and investing more resources in the development of the vaccines.

 

To this end, development agencies, countries, and their pharmacovigilance agencies, as well as supranational bodies such as the European Medicines Agency, are working much more closely together than usual.

Researchers and companies use a number of approaches to accelerate development, such as:

  • involving more people at the same time to analyse the results of research faster and to map out the next steps better.
  • combining the different stages of clinical trials and, where possible, performing different studies at the same time if safety is guaranteed.

vaktsiinide_valja_tootamise_indikatiivne_ahel
Typical indicative chain of vaccine development without combination of steps (European Medicines Agency).

 

vaktsiinide_valjatootamise_indikatiivne_ahel_
Indicative chain of COVID-19 vaccine development where different steps are combined. (the European Medicines Agency)

 

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