The Malta Independent 1 March 2021, Monday

Around 400 people have received the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine, Health Minister says

Karl Azzopardi Thursday, 21 January 2021, 15:51 Last update: about 2 months ago

Around 400 to 500 people have received the second dose of the vaccine, Health Minister Chris Fearne said while answering to questions for this newsroom.

The first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine started being rolled out in Malta on 28 December 2020 while the second dose started being administered last Sunday. As directed by the manufacturing company itself, Pfizer, there needs to be a three week waiting period from one dose to the next.

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The Malta Independent asked Minister Fearne for the number of people who have received the vaccine in full; both first and second dose.

Fearne started by saying that the vaccine was being rolled out in small amounts in the beginning but the numbers have ranked up since then with over 16,000 vaccines having been administered on Thrusday.

However, referring to Wednesday's figure of 15,300 vaccines being administered, Fearne said that the majority of these have been first doses, around 400 to 500 people have gotten the second dose. "Of course, this number has increased today and eventually we will let to a place where the ratio becomes equalised."

Asked if the rumours that some healthcare workers are refusing to take the vaccine are true, Fearne said that the percentage of refusals is very low and the majority has agreed to take it.

The authorities are currently collecting the data of those people who were contacted to get the vaccine (even from the public, not just healthcare workers) and the refusal rate will be published in the coming days hopefully. Additionally, some in-house evaluations are ongoing among healthcare workers to see what the general reason for refusal is.

He added that he does not have the exact percentage of how many healthcare workers have been vaccinated but the plan is that by the third week of February all healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors will have been vaccinated.

The Minister was also asked if there are plans to close off flights to and from the UK due to the variant that has caused some complications there, Fearne said that there has been an increase in surveillance of passengers coming from the UK and results show that there is no need for increased restrictions in this regard. He added that, other than the 3 persons that were reported a few weeks back, no other new variant cases have been found in Malta.

The issue of EU member states not receiving the number of vaccines promised by Pfizer, such as Italy which is taking legal action, was also brought up. Fearne said that Malta also received fewer vaccines than was planned this week, however, the authorities have communicated with the company which gave them their word that this shortage will be compensated in the coming weeks.

Fearne was also questioned on whether there are any plans to introduce stricter restrictions seeing that the spike in Covid-19 cases form the Christmas period has not decreased as much three weeks later. He did not give an indication of any plans for new measures, saying that numbers have actually remained quite stable considering the numbers that were being registered before the Christmas period. "Apart from these numbers the biggest concern is the number of people in the ITU which has also remained stable thankfully."

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