The Malta Association of Public Health Medicine welcomes the Ministry of Health’s initiative to increase accessibility to the measles vaccine to improve coverage. Demographic changes in our population composition, increase in inward and outward mobility as well as pockets of vaccine hesitancy and a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles require that we increase our vigilance to ensure a high level of protection.
The Council of the European Union has called on its Member States to take action to promote and support vaccination policies. In addition, the European Vaccine Action Plan (2015-2020) developed by the World Health Organisation sets immunization as a health priority working towards:
“A European Region free of vaccine-preventable diseases, where all countries provide equitable access to high-quality, safe, affordable vaccines and immunization services throughout the life course.”
As the Global Vaccination Summit takes place on the 12 September, the Malta Association of Public Health Medicine takes the opportunity to call upon the local health authorities to develop a comprehensive national vaccination strategy that reflects the changing local demography and epidemiology and fully reiterates its commitment to support Government in the implementation of such a strategy.
MAPHM specifically wishes to highlight the importance of:
I. Strengthening of the electronic monitoring system to cover all vaccinations given in both the public and private sector to persons of all ages;
II. Assessing the need for extending the national compulsory vaccination schedule in children.
III. Targeted outreach and educational and communication campaigns especially to vulnerable and higher risk groups;
IV. Evidence of vaccination as is given through the routine childhood Malta programme should be a pre-requisite for the issuance of work permits in order to ascertain that herd immunity be maintained.
V. Strategies which allow for regular checks of vaccination status and improved opportunities for vaccination across different life-stages e.g. at routine visits at general practitioner, pre-school checks and pre-employment checks etc;
VI. Ensuring vaccination of all health care workers as recommended.
MAPHM strongly supports the creation of a common EU vaccination card for all its citizens since this will be extremely beneficial to the health system in Malta where a high movement of persons in and out of the country is experienced.