People in their late 50s have started receiving invitations to get the COVID-19 vaccine although the rest of those in this age group will soon be asked to sign up if they want to get vaccinated.

Health Minister Chris Fearne had announced in March that those aged between 55 and 59 will be among the first to register for the vaccine themselves. This marked a shift in the process so far, which has seen those eligible for the jab being sent invites with appointments.

Despite this, several Times of Malta readers in their late 50s said they have already received an invite. Most of them received details on when and where they will be getting the jab via SMS.

The government on Monday urged those over 60 who had yet to receive their invite to get in touch with the authorities to be given an appointment to get their first dose, suggesting it was in the process of closing off this cohort.

Times of Malta understands that invites will soon stop being sent and only those in their late 50s have been called in through this method. A source said very few invites were sent to those under 60s, with the majority being close to 60.

The vaccination programme could soon be speeded up as the EU is set to receive the Janssen vaccine

Details on how the registration process will work have yet to be unveiled although they are expected to be made public soon. Fearne had suggested the new process will involve individuals registering online or via SMS but provided no further information.

He did not say what details would have to be provided and whether the doses will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis once the new system is in place.

Meanwhile, a number of new vaccination centres have also been set up all over the island as the vaccination programme continues. According to the health authorities, some 100 doctors have also expressed interest in administering the vaccine. This would mean people could soon be able to get their vaccine doses at private clinics although details on how this will work are also still scant.

The vaccination programme could soon be speeded up as the EU is set to receive its first batches of the newly approved Janssen vaccine.

Questions on whether Malta will be getting the first batches of this vaccine on April 15 along with the rest of Europe have remained unanswered. The Janssen manufacturers have claimed shipments to the bloc will commence on April 15 though it did not say whether this would mean all countries would get shipments of the purchased doses.

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