Malta
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Public being offered COVID booster jab to beat new variant

The government will be offering a COVID-19 vaccine booster for a new variant of the virus, along with vaccines against the flu, in the coming weeks, Health Minister Chris Fearne said. 

The free jabs will be given from all health centers and community clinics ahead of the influenza season. 

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Fearne said that while COVID-19 is now endemic, come winter, the authorities are expecting to see a rise in cases in winter.

"Right now we are seeing a new variant, called XBB, and we have a booster purposely for this new variant which will be offered alongside the flu jab," Fearne said.

From October 9, the government will be offering both the flu and COVID vaccines to vulnerable populations who are more at risk of complications, including the elderly, those with chronic health conditions, healthcare workers, and pregnant women.

As of October 16, vaccinations will be open to the rest of the public, and will be administered from all health centers, some local councils, and private doctors. 

Children aged two-17 will be offered a nasal spray influenza vaccine. 

Fearne said vaccination for children will take place at health centres on Saturdays and Sundays from October 28

Two separate jabs will be given - one for COVID, one for influenza - and Fearne encouraged people to take them both.

Patients can take them on the same day, with each jab administered on different arms. If they are not taken on the same day, patients must wait 15 days between each vaccine, Fearne said. 

"It is important we continue protecting the public, and so far we have 20,100 vaccines enabling us to start vaccinations on October 9," he said.