Vaccination should be a condition for work permits, public health professionals say

The Malta Association of Public Health Medicine has called for the implementation of a 'comprehensive' national vaccination strategy that reflects the changing local demography and epidemiology

Malta has experienced a 500% increase in measles cases this year
Malta has experienced a 500% increase in measles cases this year

The Malta Association of Public Health Medicine has called on the government to implement a national vaccination strategy to address the changes in Malta’s population, and attitudes towards vaccines in general.

The association called on local authorities to “develop a comprehensive national vaccination strategy that reflects the changing local demography and epidemiology”.

The appeal comes during a time when Malta has experienced a large increase in measles cases, with infection figures published last month by the World Health Organisation showed that new cases registered in the first half of 2019 were 500% higher than the previous year. 

In a statement on Thursday, MAPHM said it would be committed to supporting government in the implementation of such a strategy.

The association welcomed the Health Ministry’s imitative to increase accessibility to the measles vaccine and improve coverage.

However, it said that demographic changes in Malta’s population, the increase in travel to and from Malta, “as well as pockets of vaccine hesitancy and an increase in vaccine preventable diseases” necessitated increased levels of vigilance in order to ensure “a high level of protection”.

READ MORE: Measles incidence rate in Malta is fifth highest in EU

The MAPHM noted that the Council of the European Union had called upon member states to take action and promote and support vaccination policies, with the immunization having also been made a health priority by the World Health Organisation.

Specifically, the association said it wished to highlight the importance of:

  • Strengthening of the electronic monitoring system to cover all vaccinations given in both the public and private sector to persons of all ages
  • Assessing the need for extending the national compulsory vaccination schedule in children
  • Targeted outreach and education and communication campaigns, especially to vulnerable and higher risk groups
  • Evidence of vaccination as is given through the routine childhood Malta programme being a pre-requisite for the issuance of work permits in order to ascertain that her immunity can be maintained
  • Strategies which allow for regular checks of vaccination status and improved opportunities for vaccination across different life-stages, including routine visits at general practitioners, pre-school checks and pre-employment checks
  • Ensuring vaccination of all healthcare workers as recommended

READ MORE: Measles breakout mostly in over 20s who were skeptical of vaccines

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