Both my parents (in their late 70s) have received the two doses. I have received one but my wife and children (8 and 18) have not. We have not visited my parents’ house since March 2020. Is it now safe to do so once the vulnerable have been vaccinated? – Brian Decelis

COVID-19 vaccines are a crucial element in the control of the pandemic. 

Vaccines help to protect the person from getting sick and from developing complications. The impact is clear in the reduction of hospital admissions and deaths. It also helps to protect the people around those who are vaccinated. 

However, some persons who are fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine will still get sick as no vaccine is 100 per cent effective.

This is a very small percentage and from local data we have seen that only 0.6 per cent of those fully vaccinated tested positive and the majority had very mild or no symptoms at all.

International bodies, including ECDC, CDC and WHO, recommend that fully vaccinated people continue taking steps to protect themselves and others in many situations, when meeting other persons, including wearing a mask, maintaining an appropriate social distance from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces and washing their hands often.

How safe is it to travel if both parents are vaccinated against the virus but children are not? Will they be allowed to travel if children are not vaccinated? Also, is this issue being taken into consideration during the COVID-19 passport discussions? – Stephanie Slack

COVID-19 vaccination will make travel safer as it offers a more reliable protection than testing, which provides a snapshot of the viral load of the person at the point of testing. 

The ‘Digital Green Certificate’ currently being discussed between member states will facilitate safer travel during the pandemic within the EU. 

The EU puts emphasis on the right of free movement and, hence, persons who are not vaccinated (including children as currently vaccines are not authorised for use in young people) can have the option to travel thanks to COVID-19 test certificates.

Once doctors start giving out the vaccine, will we have to pay? What about clinic fees... will that be footed by the government too? If not, will we be able to still get vaccinated at other centres? – Angelo Gauci

The health authorities have managed to roll out vaccines in time as they arrive from abroad, ensuring that all the jabs are administered in the earliest time possible.

This strategy is clearly based on saving lives of persons and enhancing the roll-out to maximise the number of persons protected and reduce community transmission.

As part of the plan, doctors in the private sector have been invited to vaccinate their patients at their clinics.

A patient can register with his/her private doctor who will be provided with a supply of vaccines free of charge.

The patients who chose to be vaccinated by their private doctor will pay a fee for administration.

All jab administered from the government vaccination sites are completely free of charge.

In its decision on organised sport, why did the Public Health not make a distinction between elite sport, that is practised within rigid medical protocols, and recreational sport, such as activities in football nurseries, etc? – Gilbert Caruana

In most cases, organised sport leads to close contact of athletes, with the sport practised without masks worn. This contributes to the activity being high risk, especially since breathing during strenuous exercise brings about an increase in the volumes of air breathed in and out and in the number of breaths taken per unit time.

As the rate of breathing increases, the potential of spraying out infected droplets from someone who unknowingly has COVID is, therefore, higher.

This phenomenon is the same across all levels of sport, which brings together relatively large groups of people without wearing a mask.

It is not always easy to distinguish elite sport from recreational sport, however, the legal instrument on organised sport catered for the training of national teams. It has allowed elite athletes, due to compete in high level international competitions, to conduct their training schedules.

Do COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?  – Paula Agius

No, COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility. A sophisticated disinformation campaign has been circulating online, claiming that antibodies to the spike protein of COVID produced from these vaccines will bind to placental proteins and prevent pregnancy.

This false information is thought to originate from postings by a former scientist known to hold anti-vaccine views.

The postings are not scientifically plausible as COVID infection has not been linked to infertility.

Also, no other viral infection or vaccination-inducing immunity by similar mechanisms has been shown to cause infertility. Antibodies to the spike protein have not been linked to infertility after COVID infection. There is no scientific reason to believe this will change after vaccination for COVID.

Have any questions to ask the superintendent? Send an e-mail to askcharmaine@timesofmalta.com.

Charmaine Gauci, Superintendent for Public Health

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