In a press conference at the Health Ministry, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne has announced that moments ago, the European Medicines Agency has given its approval, for the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNtech, to be distributed within the European Union member states.
This means that in the coming hours, further approval will also be given by the European Commission, so that, the COVID-19 vaccine will be given in Malta, on the same day as all the other member states.
Deputy Prime Minister Fearne said that on Saturday, Pfizer will be delivering the first consignment of the vaccine in Malta, which will include some 10,000 doses. Two days after that, on Monday, and every other Monday, further doses will be consigned to Malta, until the 500,000 doses which are ordered would all be in Malta.
“Apart from this, we have 100,000 doses ordered from Moderna, and 1,000,000 doses ordered from AstraZeneca,” Fearne said.
The first COVID-19 vaccine in Malta will be administered on Sunday at 9am, and Chris Fearne said that this person will be a nurse who works within the Infectious Diseases Unit at Mater Dei Hospital. On Sunday, ITU, IDU, A&E and COVID-19 wards will also be vaccinated, as well as SAMOC staff.
From the 28th December, the vaccine will be administered to Primary Healthcare staff, and the staff of Swabbing centres. This will be followed by the Gozo General Hospital Staff on the 29th, and the staff of Mount Carmel Hospital, St Thomas Hospital and Good Samaritan, on the 30th.
Between the 1st and 6th January, the staff and residents of St Vincent de Paule will be receiving the vaccine, and invitation letters to other healthcare professionals in the private sector will also be sent out.
On the 7th January, the first invitation letters will be sent to those ages 85 or older. These letters, Chris Fearne explained, will include the date, time and venue where the person would need to receive the first and second dose of the vaccine. A letter from Prof Charmaine Gauci will also be sent, in which the benefits and possible side-effects of the vaccine will be outlined. The helpline 145 has also been created for any vaccine query to be seen to.
On the COVID-19 variant which has led to the suspension of UK flights, the Minister for Health said that early indications show that this strain isn’t more damaging than the current one, but it looks like it can be transmitted more easily, however, he said that early indications also show that the COVID-19 vaccine also works on this strain.
“I encourage everyone to remain responsible,” Fearne said, adding that this can be the best Christmas present we can give to our loved ones.
The Superintendent of Public Health, Prof Charmaine Gauci has said that the vaccine will not be available for those under 16 years of age, and pregnant women, while also specifying that women who take the vaccine should avoid getting pregnant for at least two months.