Two-thirds of children aged 12 to 15 have been administered a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since invitations were sent out at the end of June.

The health authorities started vaccinating children in this cohort soon after schools shut for the summer holidays.

Since then, 65 per cent of those invited have turned up to be vaccinated, a health ministry spokesperson said. The actual number was not given.

As was the case with the elderly, the children eligible for the vaccine were sent invitations at home with appointment details. Adults under 60 were not sent invitations but had to sign up for an appointment online or via SMS.

The process of vaccinating the children in this age group is proceeding as scheduled and first doses will be completed by July 24, the spokesperson said.

Anyone who has not received or missed their appointment is asked to send an email to kidscovid@gov.mt for a new appointment.

Health sources said the authorities were satisfied with the turnout so far.

Although the number of children coming forward did not peak as expected after the examinations, the uptake was still deemed positive.

It remains unclear why a third have still to turn up though. Many families were eager to travel this summer and this was being seen as an incentive to get the jab.

Sources said the health authorities are hopeful that more people will continue to come forward in the coming days.

Malta was among the first to start vaccinating children after the Pfizer jab was approved by the European Medicines Agency in May. Other European countries have started rolling out the vaccine among children but details on numbers are still limited.

Nearly 350,000 people in Malta are now fully vaccinated.

Why is it important to vaccinate children?

According to the Maltese Paediatric Association, the COVID-19 vaccine has been studied in children aged 12 to 15 and shown that it is not only safe but also prevents serious COVID disease.

Adolescents who are vaccinated against the novel coronavirus will help stop spreading the disease – including the current highly-infectious virus variants that have emerged – to their friends, younger children and babies, family and other people who might suffer serious complications from COVID-19, the association has said.

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