[WATCH] Second influenza vaccine batch to arrive next week, Chris Fearne says

Health Minister Chris Fearne says a second batch of 100,000 influenza vaccines will arrive next week • Inhalers for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease now available on government formulary

Health Minister Chris Fearne
Health Minister Chris Fearne

The next batch of influenza vaccines should arrive next week, following which the inoculation service will resume, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

Fearne was speaking during a press conference in which he announced that inhalers for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) will be added to the government's free formulary list. 

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci had said in September that the free seasonal influenza vaccine would be available in two batches, with the second one expected on 1 November. However, after the first batch of 100,000 was taken up in October, the second batch was delayed without explanation.

Fearne said the plan had always been to have the second batch distributed by the end of November, which does not result from public statements made over the past couple of months.

Last week, the health authorities told MaltaToday, that the second batch of 100,000 flu vaccines was expected to arrive this week. It now appears that the batch has been delayed by another week.

Asked by MaltaToday if the delay in influenza vaccines was a precursor to possible delays in the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, Fearne said a date for the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine was not yet known.

However, he added that the joint procurement of the vaccine by the EU - which was pushed by Malta - will enable the bloc to buy vaccines from five companies.

"The plans for these companies are to finish the trials by end of December. If those trials go well, they will then begin manufacturing the vaccine. If there is a problem with the trials, the vaccines will be delayed," Fearne said. 

Fearne said a plan is already in place on how, and who will first be receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. "We also have cold chains set up, for those vaccines that require it," he said. Some vaccines require refrigeration.

However, Fearne said there may be a period of time between the arrival of different batches of the coronavirus vaccine. 

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