Malta’s COVID-19 vaccination rate hits 90% of eligible population

Stand-up events for 100 people to be allowed from September • One COVID-19 death registered overnight • Government pushing for students to attend school physically 

Health Minister Chris Fearne
Health Minister Chris Fearne

Malta has achieved the impressive milestone of fully vaccinating 90% of those aged 12, and up against COVID-19, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Tuesday.

Speaking during the launch of a health clinic in Kalkara, Fearne said 792,000 vaccine doses have been administered so far as he urged those able to take the vaccine to do so.

He said that 90% of people who contracted COVID and were critical did not take the vaccine. There are currently 37 people recovering from COVID at Mater Dei Hospital with two receiving care at the ITU.

Fearne said the world was currently being ravaged by the Delta variant, which first originated in India, however, he stressed that Malta has a strong vaccination programme.

He said that 60,000 people had been vaccinated through the walk-in clinics and that 320,000 vaccine certificates had been downloaded so far. 

The Health Minister also announced that from 13 September, booster doses of the COVID-19 would be given to vulnerable groups and those in elderly homes. Fearne explained that at this stage, however, those who had to get the third vaccine and do not get it will still be able to download the vaccine certificate. 

Meanwhile, 35 new cases of COVID-19 were registered overnight, while 40 patients recovered. However, a 65-year-old man passed away during the last 24 hours while positive for COVID-19.

Standing events

Fearne announced that from 6 September, standing events could take place for groups of up to 100 persons who are fully vaccinated. 

The health minister said this was after consultations with the Arts and Entertainment Industry Association.

Reopening of schools

Fearne said that the push now would be for students to attend in person; this includes sixth forms and universities.

The health minister also said that while protocols are in place to protect the health of students and teachers, the success of the vaccination program should also be reflected.

Fearne however did not give a timeline for when proposals regarding the reopening of schools would be published. 

Meanwhile, the Nationalist Party is urging the government to publish clear guidelines governing the reopening of schools in September.

During a press conference, the party’s education spokesperson Clyde Puli said the reopening plan must be drafted in consultation with stakeholders while giving enough time to educators to prepare their plans for the scholastic year.

“Let’s not end up in a situation where we had strikes and industrial actions, the type of which we hadn’t seen for ages in the sector,” he said.

Julie Zahra, a PN candidate, reiterated that government must not only publish the relevant guidelines but also specify how they will be implemented in schools.

“It’s not a partisan argument, it’s in the interest of our country,” she stated.

Another PN candidate, Clifford Zahra Fenech, listed several questions that should be addressed by the government’s reopening plan, such as the use of social bubbles or who would be considered a close contact when a student or teacher contracts COVID-19.

“What plans are there for vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff?” he asked. “What will happen in schools that use the roster system?”

He further questioned the plans in place for subjects such as PE, music and drama, and whether parents or guardians will again be able to choose whether to send their students to school.

He asked whether outings will be allowed again, whether higher-level education will adopt online learning or a hybrid formula, and what aspects of education could be affected by the Delta variant.

“These are the questions being asked in the silence of their [educators’, parents’] homes,” he said.