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Don’t Succumb To Vaccine Populism, Malta Union Of Teachers Urges As Rival Union Raises AstraZeneca Alarm

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While one Maltese teacher’s union has raised the alarm on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, another one has urged people not to succumb to “harmful populism”.

Noting that official health advice is in favour of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) said its stance will remain unchanged unless it receives contradictory advice.

“Following a request by the union, the Superintendent of Public Health [Charmaine Gauci] confirmed that there’s no difference between the vaccination programme of educators and school staff and that of other people currently being vaccinated,” the MUT said.

“The vaccination programme is a singular one, which impacts the whole nation, educators and school staff, vulnerable and the general public alike.”

“We trust the advice of medical experts in terms of which vaccines should be given to whom. Until we receive contradictory advice, we don’t have a position in favour or against the use of any of the vaccines.”

“On the other hand, we urge educators and school staff who may have personal issues to speak to their doctor for advice. We urge everyone not to succumb to populism and rumours which ultimately do more harm than good.”

Earlier today, the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) said it has reservations on inoculating educators with the AstraZeneca vaccine seeing as it’s supposedly less effective than other brands such as Pfizer.

“The UPE is adamant to make sure that the best brand is given to our front-liners in the educational sector since educators deserve, and require, the maximum protection against COVID-19,” the union said. 

In response to the MUT’s statement, the UPE noted that the Maltese health authorities’ official COVID-19 vaccine FAQs indicate that AstraZeneca studies show an overall efficacy of 62.6% three weeks after the second dose. 

“The UPE would like to ensure that educators are fully benefiting from the best possible option from what is available, especially in view of the fact that educators will be those who will remain exposed directly to the virus for the longest period of time since their bubbles will mainly constitute the unvaccinated portion of the population for the foreseeable future: that is until children will be able to receive the vaccine too,” it said.

“Given the precarious situation in which our educators will continue to live in, it is clear that the UPE will continue to push to have these frontliners treated on par with other frontliners equally exposed to the virus.”

The World Health Organisation has said the AstraZeneca is 63% effective against COVID-19, although initial studies show it offers only minimal protection against the South African variant of the virus.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has 95% efficacy and has been found to be effective against the South African variant too.

However, recent research by Public Health Scotland found that COVID-19 hospitalisations were reduced by 85 percent and 94 percent of the Pfizer/BioNtech and AstraZeneca jabs respectively in the fourth week after the first dose.

Lead researcher professor Aziz Sheikh said the results showed both vaccines were working “spectacularly”.

What do you make of the vaccination campaign? 

READ NEXT: Malta Confirms 221 New COVID-19 Cases And One Death In Last 24 Hours

Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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