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Fourth Covid jab available to over 60s

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

A second round of booster jabs will soon be available for those over the age of 60 as this will be “one of the final opportunities” for the GHA to be able to offer the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

During the press conference held at No.6 Convent Place, the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, and Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Carter, encouraged the take up of the vaccine while announcing the easing of restrictions.

Dr Carter told reporters there has been a “tremendous uptake” for boosters, adding that the uptake increases with age.

“Overall in Gibraltar, in terms of all age residents, we are over 70% who have had a second dose [of the Covid-19 vaccine] has had a booster,” Dr Carter said.

“That percentage increases to up to 90% in some of the older age groups.”

“So it has been incredibly positive hence we are delighted to offer a fourth booster dose to boose their immune system as we move into the next phase.”

While the Gibraltar Government has been successful in procuring the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from the United Kingdom, this has at times presented a logistical challenge in the transportation and the storage of the vaccine.

Dr Carter said the GHA needs to order quite large amounts of this vaccine from the UK, adding that the GHA wants to avoid any “vaccine wastage”.

“We are going to be closely with the UK to understand what the Booster offer may be later on in the year,” Dr Carter said.

“There has been talk globally around the combining of Covid and Flu vaccinations into a single vaccine but we are still waiting for confirmation if that has been approved, if that has been formally regulated.”

“And then, indeed, the extreme cold chain required for the Pfizer vaccine, we need to see what supplies we will be getting through the autumn to see if we require that.”

Because of the value and amounts the GHA has to order in, Dr Carter said this was “one of the last batches of the Pfizer vaccine”, although she said Gibraltar would still hold onto very small quantities of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

On the uptake for vaccines among the five to 11-year olds in Gibraltar, Dr Carter said this has been “better than they anticipated it to be”, having already administered between 350 to 400 vaccines in that age group in its first week of the programme.

Additionally, there are current requirements for people travelling into Spain and other EU countries to ensure their last Covid-19 jab has been administered within the past nine months.

Mr Picardo said: “As far as I understand that is the current position in Spain, that is also soon to be announcing de-escalation measures.”

“We will have to keep looking at the requirements as we go to ensure that we don’t just properly regulate what happens in Gibraltar, we ensure that Gibraltarians and residents of Gibraltar are able to continue to freely travel in the European Union and the rest of the world.”

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