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Thousands of flu vaccines thrown away each year

Photo: Saviour Cassar, DOI

Photo: Saviour Cassar, DOI

"A couple of thousands" of influenza vaccines have to be thrown away by the government each year since not all those eligible for the free jab turn up to take it, Parliamentary Secretary Mario Galea said.

Addressing a press conference at the Żejtun day centre for the elderly, Mr Galea said the government ordered 80,000 vaccines which it bought for €2.90 each.

It was hoping that vulnerable groups – including the elderly, small children and chronically-ill patients - would take the jab.

People who worked in healthcare, police officers, members of the army and detention officers were among those eligible for the free vaccine.

Unfortunately, Mr Galea said, people had the misconception that the vaccine could lead to more people getting sick. This was not the case and the vaccine given in Malta was safe.

It was important that vulnerable people took the vaccine since the flu could lead to pneumonia and even death. People, he said, underestimated the severity of the consequence of contracting the seasonal influenza.

Each year between five and 15 per cent of the Maltese population got the flu which meant that between 20,000 and 60,000 got sick. People had a personal and collective responsibility to take the vaccine to ensure they did not get sick and did not get others sick, he said.

Last year 76,000 people were vaccinated and, so far, this year the number stood at 16,000 in health centres alone.

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