People aged 16 to 30 can register for the COVID-19 vaccine from Monday, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

The minister was speaking on Wednesday at an event marking International Nursing Day.

He thanked nurses and all medical frontliners for their work in the COVID-19 emergency and hailed the progress being made in the vaccination programme.

No other EU country has opened vaccination up to the entire population eligible for jabs yet.

Malta is among the world's leaders in terms of vaccine rollout speed and is on track to have vaccinated at least 70 per cent of the population eligible for vaccination by the end of the month. 

Currently, vaccine registration is open for all those over 30. As of Monday, 56 per cent of those in their 30s had been vaccinated or have registered for the vaccine, Fearne said. 

The minister said a decision had not been taken yet on whether booster shots will be necessary for COVID vaccines. The government, however, is preparing for the eventuality, with talks currently underway that would see Malta receive an additional 500,000 doses in 2022 and another 500,000 in 2023 in case boosters are needed. 

Fearne told parliament earlier this week that he expected vaccine doses to be used as boosters to reach Malta in the autumn.

Speaking on Wednesday, he added that the government will also have enough vaccines by the end of the year for young people and children to be vaccinated.

Malta would only vaccinate children if the European Medicines Agency advised doing so, he clarified. US regulators approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use in 12-15-year-olds earlier this week. 

In a comment on Times of Malta's Ask Charmaine programme, superintendent of public health Charmaine Gauci stressed that young people must take the vaccine for their own health because the virus could affect could people too. Vaccination would also stop young people from being virus carriers.

She also pointed out that vaccination made it easier to travel.

Vaccine registration is available online or via SMS. Further information can be obtained by calling vaccine helpline 145. 

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