The health authorities are considering extending the vaccine certificate for children aged between 12 and 17 who are not yet eligible for a booster.

Current EU rules state that a certificate is valid for nine months from the date the primary vaccine doses are administered.

Malta’s rules are more stringent, with primary doses only valid for three months, after which a booster dose must be taken, although minors are exempt from this rule.

Children aged between 12 and 17 started being vaccinated at the end of June, meaning certificates for those who were among the first to get the jab will soon expire.

Most EU countries, including Malta, require the certificate for travel purposes, while some use it for entry into certain establishments such as restaurants and museums.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the health ministry confirmed that a “possible extension of the duration of the COVID vaccine certificate validity for 12- to 17-year-olds” is being discussed at EU level.

A decision is expected in the coming days, the spokesperson said.

She did not say if Malta will be offering those in this cohort a booster jab in the coming weeks, especially in light of the recent authorisation of additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine for children older than 12.

So far, the local health authorities continue to offer the booster dose to those aged over 18.

Despite not being given a booster dose just yet, infection numbers among children and young people have remained stable in recent weeks following a record-breaking spike in cases in January.

According to the latest European Centre for Disease and Prevention and Control (ECDC) figures, the infection rate for children under 15 stood at 255.9 cases per 100,000 people last week, up slightly from the previous week’s rate of 253 but significantly lower than that from the first week of January.

At the time, the figure stood at 1921.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Similar patterns were also seen in the older cohort, that for 15 to 24-year-olds.

Last week, there were 227.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 198 the previous week, but notably lower that the 4327.6 cases detected at the end of 2021.

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