This week is set to be a big one for Malta’s vaccination drive, an already impressive roll-out that has seen the tiny island race past many of its European peers.
Firstly, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced yesterday during May Day celebration talks that, from Tuesday, anyone over the age of 30 will be allowed to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, making this the latest cohort to be offered the jab at record speed. After all, it’s only been a week since over 40s were invited, and Malta has meanwhile inoculated more than two-thirds of all over 50s and more than 90% of all over 60s with at least one dose, Fearne confirmed.
But most notably for those citizens who are still waiting for their turn, it looks like Malta is about to kick things into overdrive, with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine – previously touted by Fearne as a game-changer – finally being given out next week.
When asked by Lovin Malta, a Health Ministry spokesperson confirmed that the J&J jab – which has faced a number of international delays and its own batch of vaccine-related controversy – will start being administered locally “by the end of next week”.
Of course, while this will coincide with the registration for over 30s, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone in this age group will receive the J&J jab. In fact, the only factor which decides who gets which vaccine (if no other age or health-related risk is present) seems to be whatever is readily available at that point in time.
And with J&J suffering supply shortages worldwide while Malta continues to stock up on other vaccines such as AstraZeneca, trying to predict which vaccine brand you’re going to get is very difficult… and quite frankly meaningless anyway.
As #Covid19 active cases continue to fall – today 270 active cases, the lowest still early August – it remains essential to keep the high rates of #vaccination going. #takethejab https://t.co/xDyYSLM0tY pic.twitter.com/Awt6FF3JLx
— Chris Fearne (@chrisfearne) May 1, 2021
For those monitoring the daily statistics issued by Saħħa, this poses a potentially confusing reality now that one type of vaccine only requires one dose… but the Health Ministry clarified what the next step for the daily COVID-19 updates will look like.
“The daily infographic issued on Saħħa will be reworded to reflect partially and fully vaccinated individuals,” the spokesperson told Lovin Malta. This means that whether people are given the J&J jab or any of the other three already being used – Moderna, AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech – the statistics will properly reflect which part of the population is indeed fully vaccinated and protected.
Meanwhile, another statistic has also been added to the daily Saħħa statistics without much fanfare: the vaccinations given by Malta’s private GPs.
With a number of milestones and changes all being added to Malta’s vaccination drive mere days ahead of restaurants reopening and just over three weeks before the islands start welcoming tourists again, this week is set to be a very important one for Malta.
To top it all off, with active cases currently sitting at 270 – the lowest they’ve been since August 2020 – May could very well be the month Malta sees all COVID-19-related statistics being solidly in the green.
What do you make of this? Let us know in the comments below