Doctors union endorses mandatory vaccine pass until herd immunity is reached

Medical Association of Malta says still too early to withdraw new rules for valid vaccination certificate to visit various establishments • Rules should stay in place until 85% of the population is vaccinated with the booster dose

The Medical Association of Malta has endorsed new rules coming into force on Monday that require a valid vaccination certificate to visit various establishments, insisting they are required for the short term.

MAM said the measures were responsible but added they could be withdrawn once 85% of the population is vaccinated with the COVID-19 booster dose. Until yesterday, 67% of adults aged 18 and over had taken the booster dose.

On Wednesday, the Nationalist Party called on the government to scrap the rules making certain establishments accessible only to people with a valid vaccine certificate. The party said the high vaccination rate and the weakness of the Omicron variant made the new rules unnnecessary in a volte-face from five days earlier when Bernard Grech endorsed the measures.

READ ALSO: Grech’s U-turn on vaccine passes finds strong support on Facebook

MAM President Martin Balzan told MaltaToday on Thursday that it was "too early" to withdraw the proposed measures.

“Once we reach 85% vaccination rate, the focus should then shift on being more stringent at our borders,” Balzan said. “However, in the short term, it could have a positive effect because it will encourage people to get the booster and make people feel safer attending restaurants, cafes and so on, which could actually help establishments.”

As of 17 January, bars, snack bars, gyms, pools and spas, band clubs, cinemas, theatres and sporting events will only be accessible to people with a valid vaccine certificate.

Contacted by MaltaToday, the College of Pathologists said it could not give an opinion on the new measures, as it did not have the data required to reach a conclusion either way.

The new rules have created concern in the hospitality industry since it is not yet clear whether employees should also be vaccinated.

READ MORE: Hospitality industry in limbo over mandatory vaccine for employees and patrons