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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.

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.

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.

 

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COVID-19 vaccines which are being used within European Union member states 

Estonia is participating in a European Union joint procurement when it comes to purchasing COVID-19 vaccines. All twenty-seven EU member states have joined the public procurement process.
 

The European Union’s joint vaccine portfolio includes vaccines and vaccine candidates from seven vaccine manufacturers. The European Committee has entered into preliminary purchase contracts with the following vaccine manufacturers: AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Pfizer/BioNTech, Curevac, and Moderna.* Estonia has so far joined the preliminary purchase contracts in relation to five vaccine manufacturers: AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Pfizer/BioNTech, Curevac, and Moderna. Estonia will be able to join the preliminary purchase contract with Sanofi at a later date. The European Committee is also holding negotiations with one further vaccine manufacturer: Novavax. As several member states have expressed an interest, negotiations have also been launched with Valneva.

 

*A preliminary purchase contract means that if all the required studies are successfully passed and the manufacturer receives marketing authorisation for the vaccine, the manufacturer will be required to give priority to supplying the vaccine to preliminary purchase contracts before more general distribution can be undertaken.

 

As of January 2021, the European Commission has granted provisional marketing authorisation for three coronavirus vaccines:**

On 8 January, the European Committee announced that a further 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be ordered from Pfizerilt/BioNTech.

Based on the contract that has been established with Pfizer/BioNTech, Estonia will obtain COVID-19 vaccine for roughly 325,000 people, while the contract with AstraZeneca will provide vaccine for approximately 665,000 people, and the contract with Jannsen Pharmaceutica NV will cover another 300,000-or-so people. The manner of distribution for the volume of vaccines that are to be supplied by the vaccine manufacturers Curevac and Moderna between member states has not yet been decided, but Estonia is applying for the vaccine on a pro rata basis (based on the percentage of Estonia’s population out of the entire population of the EU) (which means 234,467 doses from Moderna and 659,383 doses from Curevac). Based on the contracts that have been established, deliveries of vaccines to member states will start as soon as each of the vaccines have received marketing authorisation within the European Union.
 

There are also more than 200 further vaccine candidates being developed worldwide, and the European Union is doing everything in its power to make the vaccines available to all European Union citizens as soon as possible. 
 

** Conditional marketing authorisation is issued if there is an urgent need for a medical product (vaccines are classed as being medical products), but the amount of information regarding the medical product in question is more limited than is usually required. This is permitted if the beneficial effect of a medical product or the immediate availability of a vaccine outweighs the risks which may arise from there being insufficient information regarding that product or vaccine. If a medical product has received conditional marketing authorisation, the manufacturer must continue to submit the results of ongoing studies or any new studies to the European Medicines Agency within an agreed schedule. The purpose of this is to ensure that any benefits which may arise from the application of the medical product or vaccine continue to outweigh any risks which may also accompany the use of this product or vaccine.
 

TIME

VACCINATION

Summer-autumn 2020

Mapping risk groups for vaccination. 

It was decided that vaccination would first be made available to individuals whose work involves ensuring the continuity of the provision of healthcare and social care services, as well as to those individuals who belong to certain risk groups:

  • healthcare workers and staff of healthcare institutions: approximately 30,000 people
  • staff and residents of social care institutions: approximately 25,000 people
  • all individuals who are over the age of seventy, as well as individuals with certain diagnoses: approximately 260,000 people

Next, vaccination will be made available to individuals who are employed in those fields which are most critical for the functioning of society:

  • frontline workers who are at higher risk of infection
  • providers of vital services (based on the Emergency Act)

Vaccination is voluntary in Estonia. Each vaccination contributes to preventing the spread of the virus and to returning us to our normal lives, while also helping to protect anyone who cannot be vaccinated due to various reasons.

December 2020

On 26 December, the Estonian Health Board received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine which consisted of 9,750 doses.

On 27 December, the process of vaccination against COVID-19 was launched in Estonia with the vaccination of healthcare workers.
 

The first vaccine delivery, which arrived on 26 December 2020, was divided all over Estonia between twenty hospitals, fifty-three on-call family healthcare centres (for the vaccination of all family nurses and family physicians, based on an agreement with family physicians), and to three ambulances which are not connected to any specific hospital. Hospitals proportionally received the vaccine based on the number of employees at each hospital.

January 2021

Any hospitals which are included in the hospital network were able to order vaccines for their own consumption from the second vaccine delivery which arrived on 4 January. The opportunity to be vaccinated was also extended to nursing care units in hospitals, as well as to the first care homes to have been able to access the vaccine.

The European Committee granted conditional marketing authorisation on 6 January 2021 for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

 

On 29 January 2021, the European Commission granted conditional marketing authorisation for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

 

First quarter of 2021

Vaccination of employees at healthcare and welfare institutions and the residents of welfare institutions.
The vaccination process has been launched for those individuals who are over seventy years of age and who are included in a risk group based on their diagnosis. 

Qualified individuals will be notified by their family physicians and via the eesti.ee website that they have been included in a target group for vaccination and can therefore be vaccinated. Those individuals who have received their first dose will receive reminders about the time at which they will receive their second injection. 

  • On 7 February, the first shipment of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Estonia, consisting of 7,200 doses.
  • In the week of 15 February, vaccination centres commenced the vaccination of the employees of educational institutions.
  • On 16 February, vaccination commenced against COVID-19 for frontline workers who are responsible for ensuring internal security (such as employees of the Rescue Board and the Police and Border Guard Board, plus volunteer rescuers and assistant police officers).

The Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines consist of two doses. A second injection will be administered to recipients after a period of time which has been prescribed by the manufacturer. The vaccine’s maximum efficiency will only be achieved after someone has received their second dose. For the recipient to develop the required level of immunity, both doses must be administered.

 

Second quarter of 2021

Based on the Estonian COVID-19 vaccination plan, anyone who requires the vaccine will be able to be vaccinated in the second quarter of 2021. This will be possible provided that the vaccines of other manufacturers will also be granted marketing authorisation in addition to those of Pfizer/BioNTech and Modernale , and provided that Estonia will receive a sufficient volume of vaccine.

The procedure for vaccinating Estonia’s population will be developed in the first months of 2021, based on the issuance of the appropriate marketing authorisation for COVID-19 vaccines in the EU, as well as upon delivery schedules, ie. the time at which the vaccine may be delivered to Estonia. The process of vaccinating children will commence as soon as a vaccine has become available which is suitable for children. 

 

The safety of COVID-19 vaccines  

All vaccines are assessed by researchers and authorities who are tasked with ensuring that the vaccines are compliant with all quality, safety, and efficiency requirements. In Europe, the sufficient safety and efficiency of vaccines is checked and marketing authorisations are issued by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). 

The criteria for issuing marketing authorisation have not been lowered due to the pandemic. The European Medicines Agency is currently assessing specific coronavirus vaccines in an expedited assessment procedure. On the other hand, no compromises have been made with respect to the assessment criteria (regarding the safety, quality, and efficiency of each vaccine), and it is ensured that all decisions are made by basing them on reliable scientific grounds. 

Researchers and businesses are using various approaches when it comes to developing vaccines, such as the following:

  • employing more people simultaneously in order to more quickly analyse the results of the studies and to better chart the next steps that need to be taken;
  • combining together the various stages of clinical studies and, if possible and if safety is guaranteed, organising different studies simultaneously.

The State Agency of Medicines will publish information about reported adverse reactions once a week, on Mondays. Click HERE for detailed information »

 

An adverse reaction is classed as being a hazardous and/or negative effect or an undesired reaction in the case of which a causal relationship cannot be ruled out when it comes to administering a medicinal product (ie. a vaccine). Unlike an adverse reaction, a side effect is any undesirable reaction which arises during the administering of a medical product, irrespective of a potential connection with the medical product in question.

 

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