Malta plans to be one of the first countries in the world to achieve herd immunity to the COVID-19 virus and has brought its target date for this to happen forward to mid-August, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said this morning.
The announcement was made during a press conference in which the Health Minister said that Malta will have offered a vaccine to the entire population by Santa Marija (August 15th), with those aged 50 and above able to register to receive the vaccine as of today.
Fearne recalled how the government had announced back in December that it intended to reach herd immunity by the end of September, but said that with Malta’s roll-out preceding well, this target could now be brought forward.
He said that by the end of the weekend, Malta will have administered roughly 240,000 first doses of one of the COVID-19 vaccines. By the end of March, Fearne said that 95% of those aged over 80 had been vaccinated. He noted that some European countries had not yet reached the 50% mark.
“This was our aim when we started vaccinations. Today we can update these targets,” Fearne said, adding that the new timeframes would be dependent on factors such as the timely arrival of the vaccines which Malta has ordered.
They would also be dependent on people’s continued willingness to receive the vaccine, as well as their authorisation for use by the relevant authorities. The emergence of new variants that the available vaccines are not effective against could also throw a spanner in the works, Fearne said.
The government, he said, was now looking to vaccinate all those aged 60 and over as well as all those who are vulnerable, by the end of May. The vaccine will have been offered to the entire population by mid-August Fearne said.
Fearne appealed to all those who were aged 60 and above and who have not yet received an appointment yet to call the health authorities on 145 to book an appointment.
He said that as of today, invitations for vaccinations will stop being sent out and that those in age groups eligible to receive the vaccine will need to book an appointment themselves.
Vaccination appointments can be booked either by sending an SMS or through the government’s online portal, with the latter method being the authorities’ preferred method, Fearne said.
Those wishing to register by SMS for an appointment in Malta should send an SMS to 99180044. Those wishing to get vaccinated in Gozo must send an SMS to 99180045.
The online system can be accessed at http://vaccin.gov.mt and will allow users to choose which region of Malta and Gozo they can be vaccinated in.
Fearne also announced that people will also be able to receive a vaccine from of the 90 or so private GPs who have signed up to administer it.
What do you make of these new targets?