Estonian health minister: More flexibility needed in Europe's joint vaccine contracts

  • 2022-10-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - At a meeting of Estonian Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson and European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides, the main topics of discussion were the COVID-19 situation in Estonia and Europe, vaccination and COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreements with vaccine manufacturers.

Peterson said that Europe is facing a growing surplus of vaccines, which is why more flexibility is needed in purchase agreements in order to take into consideration the changed situation. 

Kyriakides said that Estonia has been an important partner and supporter to the European Commission in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and in improving readiness for future health crises as well as in developing a cancer policy and e-health.

"With the number of infections on the rise in Europe, we must remain vigilant over the next few months. Vaccination and booster shots remain the best protection against the virus and everyone who has yet to get vaccinated should do it to protect themselves this upcoming winter," the European commissioner said, adding that achieving this objective in Estonia had been one of the main topics of discussion for her and the Estonian health minister. 

"Developments in COVID-19 are being monitored with concern in Europe because there is much uncertainty about the future and researchers do not dare to make longer forecasts, either. To mitigate a new wave of infections, it is important that people, particularly those over 60, should protect themselves with booster shots," Peterson said.

"We deem it important to ensure a supply of COVID-19 vaccines also for the future. At the same time, a surplus of COVID-19 vaccines has emerged in all of Europe and we need solutions that ensure that vaccines will not be delivered to member states if they cannot be put to use there. It means we need to improve our donation mechanisms and suspend vaccine deliveries at least temporarily," he noted.

Booster shots are available all across the country for the Omicron sub-strains BA.1, BA.4 and  BA.5. Experts in immunoprophylaxis recommend that all adults get the first booster shot and that subsequent booster shots should be administered to people in at-risk groups whose last vaccine dose or recovery from the virus occurred more than six months ago.