[WATCH] Educators to start receiving COVID-19 vaccine by end of February

School staff and other workers in essential services will start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of February, Chris Fearne says • First case of the South Africa variant found in Malta • Vaccine passport talks underway

Educators and other school staff are among the next cohort of people who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Educators and other school staff are among the next cohort of people who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine

Updated with PN statement at 3:20pm

Educators and other essential services workers will start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of February and beginning March, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

He said that school staff and persons working in the postal, water, and energy sectors will be included in the next tranche of vaccinations that will start at the end of the month.

Fearne was speaking during a press conference after the signing of an agreement between the government and Hospice Malta for a subsidy of € 2.5 million over three years.

The Malta Union of Teachers said said it was informed that the process to vaccinate school personnel had started and it would be cooperating with the health authorities to ensure a swift rollout.

Fearne said that so far 55,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered, 18,000 of those being second doses.

He said the vaccination programme was “progressing rapidly” and was now three weeks ahead of its original plan.

This week, parents of vulnerable children will start receiving invitations to get vaccinated since the vaccine is not yet available to those under 16.

Family members of those who are travelling aboard to receive medical treatment will also start receiving the vaccine from this week, Fearne added.

Fearne also said that Malta recorded its first case of the South Africa variant of COVID-19. Only one case of the variant, known as 501.V2 or B.1.351 has been found.

The number of cases of the UK variant has increased to 49. 

Vaccination passport

Asked by MaltaToday about the agreement between Israel and Cyprus which would allow Cypriots and Israelis who have taken the vaccine to travel freely without the need to quarantine, Fearne said Malta was exploring all avenues to allow safe travel. He said talks were underway with the Israeli government.

“Discussions are currently underway, always taking into consideration the best interest and health of the Maltese population,” Fearne said.

He added that the vaccination programme had already started to see good results among the groups that have been vaccinated.

The health minister said the second dose made a “tremendous difference,” in the number of people having to be hospitalised.

Fearne said, in terms of the ITU, there is always a four to six-week wait from when the second doses have been administered to see a difference in numbers.

PN statement 

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said that further measures and enforcement should be put into place to curb the spread because a new variant of COVID-19 has been found in Malta. 

The PN said this variant spread faster within the community, and therefore wider screening and efficient contract tracing was needed. The party said serious monitoring was also needed at the airport and all ports.