Hundreds queued up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday as the first mobile clinic in Malta opened its doors.

A total 2,461 jabs were given, with Health Minister Chris Fearne tweeting that the initiative was a smashing success.

The appointment-free pop-up at Mosta Technopark opened at 9.30am and was only due to operate until noon but had to extend its hours after so many people showed up.

Residents also turned up at a walk-in clinic at Gateway Hall at the University. 

Most people in the queues were foreign residents who were not eligible to get the jab earlier because they do not yet have ID cards or hadn't received an appointment. 

Video: Karl Andrew Micallef

One of those was Karl Freidman, 37, from Germany, who said he was relieved to be able to take the vaccine at last. 

"I couldn't do it earlier because I'm still waiting to receive my ID card but now finally we can take it, which makes life easier," he said.

Some of those who spoke to Times of Malta said they were initially reluctant to get vaccinated but  stricter travel rules made them change their minds. 

"I was a bit hesitant to get the vaccination at first because I have severe allergic reactions to some stuff but now that you can't really travel without it I decided to get it," said Bettina Apoloner, 31, from Germany. 

Maltese vaccination 'converts'

Only a few Maltese people could be seen in both queues, among them a man who said he was getting the vaccination again because his vaccination certificate issued outside the EU was not being recognised. 

"I've had trouble travelling so I decided to get vaccinated again in Malta even though medics have advised against it," he said. 

Since he worked abroad and needed to travel regularly, he felt he couldn't do otherwise, he said. 

Professor Nikolai Attard, Dean of the Faculty of Dental surgery who was coordinating the clinic in Mosta, called the few Maltese that showed up "converts". 

"They were not so interested in the jab because of all the hype on social media and now they are seeing from the statistics that have been coming out, the vaccinations work." 

Concerns over long queues

Regarding having to wait in long queues in the middle of July, some questioned why alternative arrangements were not offered to the elderly and more vulnerable. 

Apoloner said she had escorted an elderly woman to the end of the queue and had seen other older people waiting in the heat, who she thought should  should have been given priority.

Malta has had a very high vaccine take-up rate with 81 per cent of people now fully vaccinated, according to Health Minister Chris Fearne. 

The clinic will visit Zejtun on Wednesday and St Julian's on Friday. The University walk-in clinic will be open Mondays to Saturdays between 8.30am and 3pm, while the Gozo Conference & Expo Centre, will be open from Monday to Fridays, also between 8.30am and 3pm.     

People are asked to bring along proof of residence, such as a utility bill, in order to get the jab.       

According to the health ministry, those who have received a vaccine will be issued a code after their second dose. 

This can then be used to download the Maltese and EU vaccine certificates.      

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