Updated with Identity Malta reaction below - Expats are struggling to register for the COVID-19 vaccine because of delays related to their identity documents, Times of Malta has learnt. 

Readers who spoke to Times of Malta said that although they were eligible for the vaccine, they were unable to register because Identity Malta has yet to finalise their identity or residency documentation. 

Canadian Robert Williams, who has been living on the island for eight months, said he has been trying to sign up to get the jab for weeks since the health authorities opened up the vaccination programme to those over 50. 

Williams, who is 59, is still waiting for his ID card although he has been supplied with the document number. 

“After many visits and desperate emails to Identity Malta, we finally got the correct forms, appointment and temporary ID numbers in January with the promise for an ID card a month later. 

“We are still waiting for our ID cards three months later, and our emails now again go unanswered,” Williams said. 

After trying to sign up online and via SMS, he called the vaccination drive helpline 145 although this too proved futile.

“I’ve been treated comfortably, and we are very happy in Malta. The people here are great and I’m sure this is an oversight. But I am now worried that there could be thousands like me. I also worry because I am 59 and so considered vulnerable,” Williams said. 

Similarly, João Mourato has been struggling to sign up for the vaccine. 

Mourato moved to Malta some months ago and has since been trying to set an appointment to start the process to obtain his residency card. 

He has now been given an appointment for June 1. 

Although Mourato works with a Maltese company and his wife also lives here, the authorities refuse to accept anything other than a residence permit when registering for a vaccine, he said. 

“Public health should be a priority and people who live and work on the island shouldn't be prevented access to the vaccine for not having a residence card, especially knowing how long the process to obtain one is.

"I am willing to show the authorities all the documents that prove I live and work here,” Mourato said. 

Health authorities in contact with Identity Malta

According to a Health Ministry spokesperson, the authorities “are in contact with Identity Malta with regards to individuals who have satisfied the agency’s residence requirements and are waiting to receive their residence card",

“Malta’s vaccination programme is open to Maltese citizens and all foreign nationals who are officially residing in Malta.

"The online/ SMS registration system necessitates that applicants include the unique identification number found on ID cards, both for Maltese citizens and residence-card holders, for security reasons,” the spokesperson said. 

Sources said the authorities' biggest concern was ensuring those signing up for the vaccine really do live on the island and are not trying to get inoculated in Malta because of delays in the rollout of the jabs elsewhere. 

The sources said Identity Malta is aware of the situation and is assessing backlogs on a case-by-case basis. 

Around 61 per cent of the population eligible for a vaccine had received at least one dose as of Tuesday.  

Identity Malta explains

In a reaction, Identity Malta explained on Thursday that foreign nationals who take up residence in Malta must be in possession of a residence document.

"Notwithstanding that EU residents are required by law to apply for a residence document after having resided in Malta for three months, it appears that a number of EU nationals (some of whom have been residing in Malta for years) have overlooked this requirement," it said. 

"Consequently, this has led to a surge in demand because of the need to be in possession of such document for the vaccination programme.  Nonetheless, it is acknowledged that EU nationals are still entitled to their rights emanating from their free movement, even though they have not complied with such administrative formality."

With regard to migrants, Identity Malta said it issues an identification number and confirmation of application upon the submission of the application. In the case of EU nationals, it confirms that they have complied with their obligation to register their residency in Malta on the grounds of their rights of freedom of movement.

It said it is doing its utmost to issue residence documents in the shortest time possible once it establishes that the applicants are eligible to be registered as  residents in Malta.


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