TALLINN – Estonia's Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna has presented to the government a vaccination action plan for young people and the field of education, prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs, which aims to keep schools and universities open and improve access to vaccination in cooperation with educational institutions and school health service providers.
The minister described vaccination in the field of youth and education as the most important step in order to keep the education system open in the new academic year that is just about to start.
"The action plan foresees that by the end of the first two months of the academic year, we will have at least 70 percent of young people aged 16-17 and 90 percent of education and youth workers vaccinated with one dose. We need to make our contribution to protect the education sector and society as a whole from the virus," Kersna said in a press release.
The minister explained that the situation concerning the vaccination of young people differs from county to county and that a greater focus needs to be placed on where vaccination rates are lower. In Tartu County, 66 percent of young people aged 16-17 have already been vaccinated with at least one dose, and in Harju County 50 percent, whereas in Valga County the ratio is only 31 percent and in East-Viru County 21 percent.
On average, 72 percent of staff in educational institutions were vaccinated as on July 26. The highest proportion of those vaccinated is in higher education -- 83 percent. Of staff in primary and secondary schools, 75 percent are vaccinated, compared with 73 percent in vocational schools and 61 percent in preschool institutions.
The action plan focuses on creating additional, easier and more convenient vaccination options. More than a hundred educational institutions are already organizing or are planning to organize vaccination days, the vast majority of which will take place before the start of the new school year.
Vaccination days will take place in general education schools, vocational training institutions and higher education institutions. In the future, local authorities will receive regular updates on the progress of vaccination in educational institutions, so that vaccination can be better targeted. Up-to-date information on vaccination opportunities will be brought together on the website at vaktsineeri.ee .
The minister stressed that parents will definitely be asked for their informed consent to the vaccination of their child at school. This is done by the school nurse.
The action plan calls for the creation of the necessary legal basis for performing vaccinations and testing in educational institutions, exchanging data and obtaining consent for vaccination, as well as additional training for school health care providers and organizing the supply and distribution of vaccines. Additional funding for school health services will also be provided so that school staff, non-stationary students and adult learners can also benefit from the vaccination and testing opportunities.
Special attention will be paid to raising awareness on vaccination. To this end, clearly worded and science-based information materials will be produced for all target groups.
The action plan will be implemented during August and September in cooperation between the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Health Insurance Fund and the Health Board.