Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne announced that, as of today, a new system for the Covid-19 vaccine roll out will be put in place, allowing people over 50 years of age to register for the Covid-19 vaccine.
During a press conference on Saturday, Health Minister Fearne also said that although this is an ambitious target, the health authorities aim to offer a first jab to everyone in the country by the Santa Marija holiday period.
The new system will require individuals over the age of 50 to register for the vaccine using an SMS or online system. It will only accept registrations made by individuals over the given age cohort as this is the group which is currently eligible for vaccination appointments.
Those who choose to opt for registering through the online system are to access the following website https://vaccin.gov.mt, whilst those who choose to register via the SMS system and wish to be vaccinated are to send an SMS to 99180044 for those who reside in Gozo. and 99180045 for those who reside in Malta.
When registering online, one will be given the opportunity to choose which region of Malta or Gozo they wish to be vaccinated in. However, when registering via the SMS system this choice will not be available as the option will only be to choose whether they wish to be vaccinated in Malta or Gozo, but not in which region.
Fearne also said that people will also have the possibility to receive the Covid-19 vaccine through around 100 private GPs who have signed up to administer the vaccine against the virus.
He further explained that those who register via this new system are expected to receive a confirmation message followed by messages with information about their appointments for the first and second dose, as well as the location to where the vaccine will be given.
“The letter system which is the ‘old way’ people were receiving their appointment will no longer be in place, therefore people are expected to register if they want to be vaccinated,” Fearne said.
As Fearne explained the new targets for vaccination for this country, he said that Malta is still at the highest level when it comes to the vaccine roll out. By this weekend Malta will be reaching 240,000 vaccines given.
Fearne explained that vulnerable people and others over 60 will have been offered the Covid-19 vaccine dose by the end of the end of the month. Whilst those over 50s can register now and expect to receive a vaccine invitation by mid-May.
“Once this age cohort has been covered, registrations will then be open to those aged 40 to 49,” he said.
Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci highlighted that the number of Coronavirus cases in Malta continues to decrease.
She added that hospitalisation rates have also shown a downward trend, especially among those people who are over 80 as they are now fully vaccinated.
Speaking about cases in homes for the elderly, Gauci said that these have decreased as well because 96% of residents have been vaccinated. As of Monday, care homes will be reopened to visitors.
Gauci urged the public to continue abiding by all measures which are in place and said that “until the roll out of vaccine is complete for the whole country, we must be cautious.”
She also urged those people who received an appointment for the vaccine to go and take it.
Speaking about the concerns which have been flagged regarding the very rare blood clotting linked to the Covid-19 vaccine known as AstraZeneca, Professor Michael Borg, who heads Mater Dei Hospital’s department of infection control, reassured people about the reports saying that the “vaccine is safe and effective.”
He explained that the blood clotting link found was extremely rare and far outweighs the benefits it offers.
Reports have shown that some EU countries have decided to restrict the AstraZeneca vaccine to specific age groups, but Malta will not do the same. Fearne remarked that the country relies on the recommendations made by the European Medicines Authority (EMA) for the vaccine.
“Up to today, their advice has been for the AstraZeneca to be used among all age cohorts, therefore we will continue doing so. Once EMA advises some kind of change, we will then follow their advice,” Fearne said.
Answering questions made by The Malta Independent with regard to patients who already had Covid-19 and the vaccine. Borg explained that when a patient gets Covid, this does not necessarily mean that the person will be immune for a long period. The vaccine against the virus is the factor which provides people with a longer immunity.
“Those who already tested positive for the virus, are still to take the vaccine against Covid,” he urged.
The only difference when compared to a person who has not yet resulted positive is that the vaccine for the already infected person will be given around four to six weeks after the patient receives a negative test. This will allow the natural process to occur and allow the body to go back to normal.