At-risk groups can get free influenza vaccines starting from today

Family physician Dr Tommi Ründal (foto:Mari Aleksandra Kalluste, Õhtuleht)

Tens of thousands of people in Estonia contract influenza during the peak virus season, and those most in need of protection against influenza are at-risk groups – small children up to the age of 7, pregnant women, people over 60, and minors who are at higher risk of complications and severe influenza due to their health conditions. Starting from today, people at risk can book a free vaccination appointment at their family medicine centre, numerous pharmacies, and vaccination clinics in medical institutions across Estonia.

‘Last season, nearly 39,000 people fell ill with influenza in Estonia. This is a large number of people who, in addition to suffering from the disease, may also suffer from serious complications, such as pneumonia, middle ear infection, kidney inflammation, or exacerbations of other chronic illnesses. Among the people who died from the complications of influenza last season, no one had been vaccinated, so vaccination could have saved at least 100 lives,’ said Olga Sadikova, chief specialist of the Influenza Centre of the Health Board.

‘The influenza vaccine is available free of charge to people in general and special welfare services, everyone over 60 years of age, pregnant women, children up to 7 years of age, and minors in the influenza risk group who are at higher risk of serious illness due to their health condition,’ explained Hanna Jäe, vaccination service manager of the Health Insurance Fund. This list includes children and adolescents with cardiovascular diseases, oncological diseases, immunodeficiency, diabetes, or obstructive pulmonary diseases. The influenza vaccine is also free of charge for at-risk war refugees and people in risk groups who do not have a valid health insurance.

Vaccination against influenza for people at risk is paid for by the Health Insurance Fund, which has purchased 113,000 doses of vaccine this year. For people who are not at risk, the influenza vaccine costs between €15 and €30, depending on the price list of the vaccination centre.

Family physician Dr Tommi Ründal said that influenza is a serious infectious disease that can be prevented or alleviated with the vaccine; later complications can also be avoided. ‘As the influenza vaccine is currently available free of charge to at-risk groups, it is important to take advantage of this opportunity and get vaccinated. With preventive action, we can reduce serious illness and death. Everyone, even those who are not at risk, should consider getting vaccinated,’ said Ründal.

Those who wish to receive the influenza vaccination can do so at their family medicine centre. People can also get vaccinated quickly and conveniently at many pharmacies and vaccination clinics in medical institutions across Estonia. Advance booking is required for vaccination, which can be done here.

In care facilities, the influenza vaccine is given to anyone who wants it by the nursing care provider. More information can be found on the website