The purposes behind the organisation of vaccinations at the national level are as follows:
- preventing outbreaks and the spread of infectious diseases which can be curtailed or avoided through vaccination in a safe and cost-efficient manner
- reducing the number of cases in the event of an outbreak
- preventing or curtailing complications and deaths, and thereby improving the quality of life for the population
By organising a vaccination programme, the state is aiming to provide widespread benefits to the population that are in line with prevailing economic opportunities.
Who decides whether or not you should vaccinate?
Vaccination is voluntary in Estonia. Parents (or the child’s legal representatives) make decisions on behalf of their children and are required to express their wishes in writing. Health care professionals can help parents in making informed decisions by responding to their questions and providing scientifically-based information about vaccinations.
Before any vaccination takes place, a health care professional will check the patient’s health situation and determine whether there are any temporary or permanent contraindications. In the case of there being evidence of possible contraindications, any vaccinations should be forgone or postponed.
Any vaccinations which are provided as part of the immunisation schedule are free of charge for all.
Who will provide the vaccination service?
Newborn children are vaccinated against tuberculosis at the maternity hospital. After that, children will be referred to a vaccination service by their family physician or nurse. School healthcare workers will take care of vaccinations for school-aged children and youths. Parents must provide their written consent for all vaccinations that are to be provided at school. If a parent decides to decline to have their child vaccinated, they must also express this decision in writing.
Vaccinations outside of the immunisation schedule
Vaccinations outside of the immunisation schedule can be received at one of several locations:
- at the family physician’s practice
- at an out-patient medical institution which provide vaccination services (in the offices for infectious diseases)
- at private practices
Those vaccinations are available for a charge and the cost of the vaccination is determined by the service provider.
How vaccinations should be documented
The healthcare provider must enter into the health information system details about any immunisation services that are provided to a patient.
All vaccinations must be documented either on paper or electronically in the immunisation book, and respective entries must be made in the individual’s immunisation passport and in their health file. Entries that are made in the immunisation book or on the electronic database must include the name of the individual who was vaccinated, their age, the time at which the vaccine was administered, and the exact name, batch number, and expiry date of the vaccine which was administered.
The immunisation passport belongs to the patient and should always be brought along when the patient visits a healthcare provider for a vaccination. The immunisation passport is necessary for every patient so that they are able to gain an overview of their vaccinations. It may also be required in the event of their travelling abroad (some countries require certain vaccinations as a condition for entry), or when leaving Estonia to study abroad (in order to prove that the individual has in fact been vaccinated).
Immunisation passports are issued to the parents of newborn children at the maternity hospital. Other individuals can have their vaccination passports issued by family physicians or healthcare providers.
Vaccination against rabies in the event of an individual having been attacked by an animal and vaccination against tetanus in the case of experiencing some form of trauma are services that are provided by emergency care units at healthcare institutions. Such vaccinations are provided free of charge as part of the provision of emergency services.
Vaccinations for individuals who are at-risk due to their occupation
If an individual has a risk of coming into contact with an infectious disease in connection with the performance of their working duties, the employer must organise and fund the required vaccinations. Further information can be found here.
Travel-related advice and vaccinations are available from several travel medicine offices, as well as from some family physicians. Further information is available here.