Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne has announced the country is planning to reach herd immunity by the end of June, three months ahead of the original end-September target.
At a press conference addressed on Saturday morning, Minister Fearne revealed that authorities are bringing forward Malta’s COVID-19 vaccination timeline, thanks to a successful roll-out, and that the general population will be offered at least one dose of the vaccine by 15th August.
“We are planning to reach herd immunity towards the end of June,” Minister Fearne said.
As of today, (Saturday), the Government is opening up a new form of vaccine registration, currently eligible to those aged 50 and over, via SMS, online (vaccine.gov.mt), or through family doctors registered in the vaccine programme.
Minister Fearne said that if a number of factors hold, such as companies upholding their agreements on vaccine supply, that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) continues to recommend available vaccines for use and the Maltese population continue to accept the jab, the above timelines for herd immunity should hold.
He explained that in December, authorities targeted inoculating 80 per cent of those aged 80 and over by end March. This was surpassed with 95 per cent of the age group having received the jab.
The target for vulnerable people aged over 75, originally for end May, has been updated to end April and now includes vulnerable people aged 60 and over.
Minister Fearne announced that now, authorities are targeting a first dose of the vaccine to be offered to all those aged 50 and over by the third week of May. By the third week of June, those aged 40 and over will have been offered at least one dose of the jab, and, finally, by mid-August, the general population will have the opportunity to receive at least one dose.
This tallies with a European Commission internal memo seen by Bloomberg which showed a majority of EU member states will have enough COVID-19 vaccine supplies to immunise the majority of residents by end June, much earlier than the EU’s official target.
Industry bodies across the island, such as the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, the Association of Catering Establishments, the Federated Association of Travel & Tourism Agents Malta, the Malta Employers Association, The Malta Chamber and the Malta Chamber of SMEs have repeatedly stressed that Malta’s economic recovery, competitiveness and consumer confidence are contingent on a speedy vaccination roll-out.
Malta has consistently been ahead of the EU pack with regards to its vaccination programme, with many EU countries being dogged by a slugging roll-out.
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