Restrictions likely to remain throughout 2021, says Health Minister

Despite the availability of the vaccine, there will be restrictions throughout the next year, Health Minister Ilze Viņķele said at a press conference December 11.

At the press conference, the Health Ministry spoke about the plan of administering COVID-19 vaccination.  Viņķele said the Ministry has developed a detailed vaccination plan.

“Latvia has done all the preparatory work necessary for us, like other countries of the European Union, to start vaccination immediately when vaccines are registered and available for use,” the minister said.

Viņķele emphasized that the vaccine would be voluntary. She also said that vaccines would be financed from the state budget and the public would be able to vaccinate free of charge.

At the same time, the Minister said that vaccination would not immediately cancel assembly restrictions, and that safety measures at different levels would likely be maintained throughout the next year.

State Agency of Medicines Director Svens Henkuzens said that the country hopes to receive the U.S. company Pfizer's vaccines first. The Ministry's plan is to supply 12 000 doses of vaccines in the first delivery. The first Covid-19 vaccines for hospitals are scheduled to be distributed proportionally to the number of hospitals. Henkuzens also said that half of the vaccines from the first delivery would be received by the Emergency Medical Service (NMPD).

Dace Zavadska, Chair of the State Council of Immunization, said that the Ministry's plan is to carry out vaccination in accordance with the priority groups recommended by the European Commission. Medics with direct contact with COVID-19 patients will be vaccinated first.

Zavadska said that COVID-19 vaccines have no uncharacteristic side effects. Symptoms after receiving the vaccine are equivalent to any other shot.

It is very important for each person to receive two doses of vaccine, explained Zavadska. 21 to 28 days after the first dose, a second dose is needed to achieve the desired persistence of the vaccine. Therefore, when the vaccination process starts, people are encouraged to schedule appointments in time.

See also LSM's other story on the outline of COVID-19 vaccination plan in Latvia.

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