The vaccine against seasonal influenza will start being administered in five days’ time. The health authorities explained that as this vaccination is completely different from the Covid-19 booster, those taking the booster dose need not allow time to pass before taking the influenza vaccine. Everyone is being urged to take the influenza vaccination; however, the first three weeks will be for particular categories including children. Children between the ages of two and twelve will be given a spray dose instead of a vaccination.
With effect from next week, for the first time ever the country will be going through two vaccination campaigns simultaneously. Besides the booster dose for covid-19, with effect from Monday, the influenza vaccine will start being administered.
During the first three weeks, the call is for adults in the 55+ sector, persons working in health institutions, and persons with chronic illnesses like heart, liver and kidney diseases, neurological illnesses, as well as asthma, diabetes and low immunity. These persons can be vaccinated between Monday and Friday at all health centres in Malta and at the health centre in Rabat, Gozo. During this three-week period, on the weekend the influenza vaccine will be given to children in the six-month to 12-year age group. For children, the vaccination will be administered at the Mosta, Paola and Floriana health centres and at the health centre in Kercem, Gozo.
Children between six months and two years of age will be given a vaccination, and once again children over the age of two and up to 12 years will be administered the vaccine through a nasal spray.
In an interview with TVM Dr Lorraine Tabone, a doctor in primary health care, explained that the vaccine against influenza will be given at the same time as the ongoing anti-Covid-19 booster campaign. The doctor emphasised, however, that these are different vaccines, and one can therefore take them at the same time.
“As long as the Covid vaccine is a booster and not the first dose, there is no need to leave a gap between one vaccine and another. The influenza vaccine protects against influenza, a virus that can sometimes have serious consequences, including hospitalisation, and it can also prove fatal for the very vulnerable. As a virus, it has its consequences, it is not a case of taking it because we also have Covid around.”
After the first three weeks, everyone will be called upon to receive the influenza vaccine, for which no appointment is needed. Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne appealed to the public to follow the health authorities’ notifications regarding places where the vaccines will be administered, in order for the process to move smoothly.