Malta is expected to reach its target of vaccinating 70 per cent of the population aged over 16 against COVID-19 by the middle of next week, medical sources said on Saturday.
The 70 per cent target was set by the European Commission, which has said it expects member states to have vaccinated that amount of the eligible population by the end of summer 2021.
Malta is currently vaccinating people at a faster rate than its EU peers and is expected to be the first of the EU’s 27 member states to achieve the target. Health authorities have previously confirmed that they are basing the target on the share of people who have received one vaccine dose.
As of Thursday, healthcare workers had administered a total of 453,711 vaccine doses, with 296,548 of those being first doses. That number topped the 300,000 mark by Saturday morning, Health Minister Chris Fearne revealed on Twitter.
Vaccines are being administered to anyone aged 16 and over, although health authorities may expand vaccination to include children aged 12 to 15 if the European Medicines Authority advises countries to do so.
According to the latest population figures made available by the National Statistics Office, which date to the end of 2019, Malta’s total population stands at 514,564. The number of people aged 16 and over amounts to 432,616.
Based on those figures, around 68.5 per cent of the population currently eligible for vaccination has already received at least one vaccine dose. When the entire population, including children under 16, is factored in, that percentage dips to 57.6 per cent.
Healthcare workers have been administering an average of more than 7,000 doses every day over the past week, but that rate is expected to decline slightly over the weekend before picking up again as of Monday.
Healthcare sources told Times of Malta that as a result, they expected the 70 per cent target to be reached by the middle of the week - around one month before the end-of-June target set earlier this spring.
Health Minister Chris Fearne declined to speculate on when the target would be achieved and instead emphasised the importance of keeping up the pace.
“It remains essential for us to maintain the vaccination momentum, he said. These high levels of vaccination are allowing us to continue to release restrictive measures in a gradual and responsible manner whilst keeping everyone safe. We are winning back our normality one jab at a time.”
Vaccination is currently open to anyone aged 16 and over. Applicants can register for a jab at vaccin.gov.mt.
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