The Malta Independent 18 May 2022, Wednesday

Changes to Covid-19 restrictions depend on immunity studies on vulnerable and elderly - Fearne

Tuesday, 18 January 2022, 12:15 Last update: about 5 months ago

Lifting of Covid-19 restrictions depends on the results of immunity studies carried out on vulnerable and elderly who got booster jab four months ago, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

The minister said that an ongoing assessment to determine the level of immunity would be a decisive factor in considering a fourth booster.

"It will be a few more weeks before we have the results of this assessment, which will then lead to a decision on the fourth dose and whether restrictions can be lifted," Fearne said during the programme Xtra on TVM News Plus.

He also pointed out that solidarity should be on the forefront during this period as if not, the lives of the vulnerable and elderly are at risk.

Elderly people living in care homes and vulnerable people were the first to be offered the booster doses during the summer of last year.

At present, Fearne said that 72% of the adult population had received the third dose.

As of Monday, new measures came into place requiring many establishments to limit entrance to individuals in possession of a Covid vaccine certificate. Validation of such certificates expires after three months have passed since the second dose, nine months after passing on the third dose.

Opposing the requirement of a valid vaccine certificate to enter establishments, Nationalist leader Bernard Grech insisted that doing so infringes on freedom. 

In response to Grech's stand, the Health Minister set his concerns aside, as he insisted that the opposition party has no responsibility to act on.

"I will not go down the route of the Opposition leader, whose only consideration is whether he can attract voters. My consideration is the health of our citizens, and together with my Cabinet colleagues, it is our responsibility to run the country unlike the Opposition leader, who has no such duty," he added.

Fearne said that unvaccinated people and those not boosted with the jab made most of the recent victims of the disease.

The minister also said that 12,000 Pfizer vaccines had been given to children aged five to 11.

As such new vaccinated individuals, the minister said that children at present have been exempted from presenting a Covid vaccine certificate as they are still to take a second dose. After this age category receives its second dose plus another 14 days, they will be asked for a vaccine certificate Fearne said.

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