As of late May 2021, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccinations in Malta has allowed 70% of Malta’s adult population to receive at least one dose. The country’s decreasing COVID-19 cases and the success of the vaccine rollout offer hope to Maltese officials as they plan to reopen the country.
The Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccinations in Malta
Thanks to Malta’s increase in vaccinated citizens, hospitalizations have decreased by 95%. The country’s health minister, Chris Fearne, reported that 42% of adults are fully vaccinated. The country has administered Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines. On June 8, 2021, the country’s active COVID-19 cases dropped to just 70, with a report of only one new case. Malta is among the growing number of nations, such as Israel and Bhutan, that are reporting successful vaccine rollouts.
Malta’s Declaration of Herd Immunity
With the successful vaccine rollout, the Maltese government has declared herd immunity. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced uncertainty about such declarations. Due to new COVID-19 variants, the proportion of the population requiring vaccination to achieve herd immunity is unknown. The new variants reduce the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning vaccinated people may still be at risk.
According to the Bloomberg vaccination tracker, the 42% of the Maltese population that is fully vaccinated does not include children 16 and younger. As a result, the total percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated is only 36.5%. Despite its small population of only about 500,000 people, the country has reported more than 30,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 400 COVID-related deaths.
Though COVID-19 cases are falling in Malta, the U.K. has announced that it will not lift its Malta travel ban. When the U.K. revised its “green list” of countries whose citizens will not have to follow quarantine requirements upon entry, Malta was still not part of the list. However, other countries such as Portugal and the Netherlands have eased restrictions on traveling to Malta.
Although the majority of Malta’s adult population has received vaccinations, the mask mandate will remain in place until July 1, 2021. After July 1, fully vaccinated people will no longer have to wear masks outdoors as long as COVID-19 cases stay relatively low.
As the country reopens and allows travelers to visit again, the Maltese government has set a new requirement for people entering the country: a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test. The government will also provide incentives to visitors, such as hotel and scuba diving vouchers, to promote tourism and boost the economy.
Maltese citizens will also need vaccine certificates in order to attend certain public gatherings. The certificates will act as proof for citizens who have received COVID-19 vaccinations in Malta. Fearne reports that as of June 10, 2021, Maltese people have downloaded more than 60,000 vaccine certificates.
The success of Malta’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout inspires hope for other countries. With more vaccine diplomacy and less vaccine nationalism, more countries can progress toward achieving herd immunity.
– Jordyn Gilliard