People aged between 70 and 79 will be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine once all those in 80 to 85 age group have been vaccinated, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci told Times of Malta.
She said that since the AstraZeneca vaccine is not being given to the elderly, the health department does not want to keep any vaccine doses aside or on hold.
“There are two processes ongoing: elderly groups are being given the Pfizer vaccine and essential workers such as teachers are to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
She said this should be considered as “two parallel streams” so that all the vaccines in hand are used.
On Friday, during her weekly update on the COVID-19 situation, she explained that at present the second and third groups of people are being vaccinated. These groups include people aged 80 to 85 and clinical setting workers, and non-medical frontliners, such as police, AFM and CPD.
As of Friday, Malta had administered nearly 60,000 vaccine doses, including nearly 20,000 who received a second dose, so now fully vaccinated.
Last Tuesday, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that teachers and school staff will start being vaccinated by next week. Teachers were pushed up the vaccine list back in January following a two-day strike.
Along with teachers, other frontliners will be receiving the vaccine next week, including staff of Enemalta, Arms and the Water Services Corporation.
Following the announcement, many questioned why school staff and other non-medical workers have been given priority over those aged 70 to 79, who have not yet been told when they will be vaccinated.
“That age group is extremely large, there are around 13,000 individuals between the age of 75-79,” said Gauci.
She said that if the process were to simply follow the age group, the vaccine rollout programme would be much slower and AstraZeneca vaccines would not be used immediately.
“Our policy is that we do not leave vaccine doses in the fridge, especially since this would lengthen the process.”
She said that all elderly people as well as vulnerable groups will be given the Pfizer vaccine at health centres and Mater Dei hospital.
“It is important that this is done so we have continuity of the process,” she said.
Gauci said that a number of individuals will receive their vaccine letter soon if they form part of the vulnerable group.
Both Fearne and Gauci have stated that the vaccination progress is ahead of its original plan.