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The protection of older people against COVID-19 is increasing: more than half of the people over the age of 70 have been vaccinated with at least one dose

“Our goal is to protect at least 70 per cent of people over the age of 70 in most counties by the end of April,” said Tanel Kiik, the Minister of Health and Labour.

As of this morning, 333,835 protective injections have been given in Estonia and more than a quarter of a million people have been protected against COVID-19 with at least one dose. 24% of all adults have been vaccinated and more than half of people over the age of 70 have been vaccinated with at least one dose. In the coming weeks, vaccination will continue, especially for older people and for people in the COVID-19 risk groups.

“The rate of vaccination remains high and coverage is gradually increasing throughout Estonia. Hundreds of health care institutions and thousands of health care workers work hard every day to provide Estonian people with protection from the COVID-19 disease through vaccination,” said Tanel Kiik, the Minister of Health and Labour. “Our goal is to protect at least 70 per cent of people over the age of 70 in most counties by the end of April. Based on the current delivery schedules, we can gradually start vaccinating the wider population at the end of the spring. In the coming weeks, however, we will focus primarily on the protective injections for older people, who are most at risk from COVID-19.”

A total of 259,061 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose to date, 74,774 of whom have finished with their course of vaccination. 38,369 protective injections have been given within the week so far.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), on average, 16.5% of the adult population in the European Union is currently vaccinated with at least one dose. In Estonia, 24% of the adult population has been vaccinated. Estonia ranks third in the European Union, after Malta and Hungary, in terms of the number of COVID-19 vaccinations per capita.

Vaccination coverage is highest among the people over the age of 70, of whom more than half across Estonia are protected with at least one dose.

In Hiiu County, vaccination coverage is 74% in the 80+ age group and 81% in the 70–79 age group, in Saare County it is 73% in the 80+ age group and 71% in the 70–79 age group, in Rapla County it is 68% in the 80+ age group and 64% in the 70–79 age group, in Lääne County it is 67% in both age groups, In Järva County the coverage is 64% in the 80+ age group and 55% in the 70–79 age group, in Tartu County the coverage of all the people over the age of 70 is 60%. The vaccination coverage of older people is lower than average in Ida-Viru County – 23% among those over the age of 80 and 32% in the 70–79 age group, and in Valga County, where 44% of those over the age of 80 and 37% in the 70–79 age group are vaccinated. At the county and rural municipality level, it is possible to monitor the progress of vaccination by age groups in the coronavirus dataset of the Health Board.

To date, vaccinations have been performed by a total of 506 health care institutions, including 413 family health centres. 60% of all vaccinations have been given in family health centres, 27% in hospitals, 7% by specialist medical units and 4% by nursing care providers.

On 5th April, the National Immunoprophylaxis Expert Committee updated the recommendations for the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The Committee strongly recommends that the courses of AstraZeneca vaccine that have already been started be completed with the 2nd dose at the agreed time. Until there is new data, the Committee recommends that new vaccinations with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are only started in people over the age of 60. Based on the available data, the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective for older people. Data from different countries shows that the AstraZeneca vaccine is very effective in older people, who also have significantly fewer vaccine-related side effects. Vaccination of older people remains a priority, as they are at significantly higher risk of developing serious COVID-19.   

This week, 26,910 doses of the vaccine Comirnaty by Pfizer/BioNTech arrived to Estonia. Next week, 26,910 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 9,600 doses of Moderna vaccine and 4,800 doses of the vaccine Vaxzevria by AstraZeneca are expected to arrive to Estonia.

The main purposes of COVID-19 vaccinations are to protect the risk groups who are more likely to have a more severe course of the COVID-19 disease when infected, to prevent and reduce COVID-19-related illnesses and deaths, to reduce the burden on the health system and the economy and to ensure the normal functioning of society.

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