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Vaccination plan to counter Covid

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THE Health Department is preparing a two-pronged programme of vaccination to counter the threat of a spike in coronavirus cases this winter.

Dr Ivan Muscat

As well as a vaccine for Covid-19, which Deputy Medical Officer of Health Dr Ivan Muscat said he hoped might be available in late autumn, flu would also be a priority.

Health Minister Richard Renouf said that the risk from coronavirus had not diminished.

‘We should not think that Level 1 will allow us to return to life as normal. Quite the opposite,’ he said.

‘We will only be able to fully lift the pandemic public health measures at the point at which an effective vaccine is successfully deployed.

‘I can confirm that preparations are under way so that government and the health system will be ready to vaccinate the Island population as soon as a viable vaccine becomes available.’

Dr Muscat said flu vaccinations would play an important role in ensuring the health service was not overwhelmed, and that there were also encouraging signs about a Covid-19 vaccine.

‘It is thought by many that a Covid vaccine will start to be available in autumn, probably late autumn,’ he said.

The key to rolling out a vaccine was not to accumulate large supplies, but to have a strategy ready that meant it could be made available swiftly, he said.

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‘We need to make sure we can empty the boxes and deliver the vaccine to people as soon as it arrives,’ he said.

Deputy Renouf was asked about the Island’s ‘insurance policy’ against a second wave, the Nightingale Hospital, and whether the agreement for it to remain in place had been finalised beyond the originally envisaged period of six months.

‘I’m not sure whether it has been signed, but negotiations are certainly going well and the supplier is willing for us to have it over the winter,’ he said.

The minister confirmed there would be an additional cost to the Nightingale extension, but did not have a figure available.

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