Malta's low vaccine hesitancy, efficient planning contributed to success of COVID inoculation drive

A report that analysed Malta's COVID-19 vaccine rollout during the third wave last year finds that low vaccine hesitancy and efficient planning contributed to the successful roll-out of the vaccine, placing Malta in Europe's top tier

Malta registered a high uptake of COVID vaccines across all age groups
Malta registered a high uptake of COVID vaccines across all age groups

Malta’s vaccination roll-out has been among the best in Europe with high uptake across all ages, a report analysing the inoculation programme during the third wave has revealed.

The report, written by Sarah Cushieri, Steve Agius, Jorgen Souness, Andre Brincat and Victoria Grech, found that Malta's success across all age groups contrasted with that witnessed in other countries. The research found that in many European countries the high acceptance of vaccination among the elderly and vulnerable groups contrasted with high vaccine hesitancy in the younger age groups.

“Even healthcare workers appear to display hesitancy, notably in France and Belgium, unlike in Malta,” the report said.

The report noted that not even the news of thromboembolic events linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine did not hinder the vaccination drive in Malta as much as in other countries. The Maltese health authorities continued following the advice of the European Medicines Agency and did not pause its vaccination roll-out.

It said the success of the vaccination programme could also be attributed to the population size, which allowed efficient planning, which was also seen in such places as Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and the Cayman Islands.

“Continuous opening of new vaccination hubs to maintain rapid vaccination of both the first and second doses simultaneously, was another successful strategy as was the maximization of vaccination orders from all manufacturers,” the report noted.

It added that continuous communication strategies are needed to encourage population vigilance to physical distancing behaviour and public health surveillance to monitor the COVID-19 situation and implement timely restrictions should the need arise.

As of yesterday, 1,114,588 doses have been administered of the COVID-19 vaccine, of which 261,838 are booster doses. More than half of the adult population has received the booster dose, while the vaccination drive is continuing among children aged between 5 and 11.