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Malta becomes first EU country to offer COVID-19 vaccines to 16-year-olds

Christian Fernsby |
Malta has become the first European Union (EU) member state to offer COVID-19 vaccines to youngsters from the age of 16, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced on Wednesday.

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Addressing the press on the occasion of International Nursing Day, Fearne said that as from May 17, those aged between 16 and 30 can register to receive the jab protecting them from adverse effects of the coronavirus.

Malta is among the top tiers in the world in terms of vaccine rollout speed and is on track to have vaccinated at least 70 percent of the population eligible for vaccination by the end of the month, he said.

The country is currently vaccinating those in the 30 to 40 age cohort after having previously opened vaccination to those aged over 40 and 50. Older people have already been vaccinated, just after the medical frontliners. As of Monday, 56 percent of those in their 30s had been vaccinated or have registered for the vaccine, Fearne said.

He said that although a decision at the European level has not yet been taken on whether vaccine boosters will be required, Malta is preparing for the eventuality by holding talks to receive an additional 500,000 doses in 2022 and another 500,000 in 2023 in case boosters are needed.

He added that the country will also have enough vaccines for teenagers and children by the end of the year if the European Medicines Agency advises it.

Earlier this week, United State regulators authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.

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