Which EU country is leading the COVID-19 vaccination race?

Malta port with multiple boats in the harbour
Malta port with multiple boats in the harbour Copyright Canva
By Jonny Walfisz
Share this article
Share this articleClose Button

Four of the countries in the top five are Iceland, Portugal, Denmark, and Spain.


Malta has risen to the top of the vaccinations leaderboard in Europe with 156.53 vaccination doses administered for every 100 people.

According to data from the 12th of September this year, the top four countries behind Malta are Iceland, Portugal, Denmark, and Spain.

The UK came in eighth place for total vaccinations across its population, having handed out 135.49 per 100 people. Across the EU, cumulative uptake of full vaccination among adults over 18 is at 70.9 per cent.

More detailed data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control shows that Malta has fully vaccinated 80.3 per cent of its entire population of around 500,000 people. Among over 18s, the fully vaccinated rate is even higher, at 91.1 per cent.

Malta travel booms with vaccination successes

Malta’s edge is likely related to its small size and high population density as the world’s tenth smallest country by area and the fourth most densely populated sovereign country.

It registered just 35 new COVID-19 cases on 13 September and had just 1,119 active cases across the country. Malta also recorded two deaths from COVID-19 in the same day, taking the overall pandemic total of deaths to 449.

By comparison, the UK’s uptake for full vaccination among over 16s has reached 80.9 per cent with the uptake of the first dose at 89.1 per cent.

With its low case rates and high vaccination record, Malta has become an ideal travel spot for vaccinated tourists. Tourists with proof of a full course of vaccination don’t need to quarantine to get access to dazzling beaches and thriving port towns.

On the UK’s green list, Malta is a perfect travel destination for anyone desperate for a week in the sun. Although if you’re yet to get your full course of vaccinations, don’t even think about it. Anyone over the age of 12 without two doses isn’t getting in.

Statistic: Number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Europe as of September 12, 2021, by country (per 100 population) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Which EU countries are behind in vaccination rollout?

The country with the lowest rate of vaccinations in the EU is Bulgaria with only 34.92 doses administered per 100 people.

Making up the bottom of the list for European vaccination rates were Romania, Russia, Croatia, and Latvia. But Bulgaria is still significantly behind the others. The country has vaccinated under half the number of people in Croatia and Latvia.

In Bulgaria, just 21.4 per cent of people have received a full course of vaccinations, with only 23 per cent of people having received a first dose.

Throughout the pandemic, Bulgaria has faced one of the highest mortality rates from COVID-19. Globally, the country has seen the seventh-highest rate of deaths per capita. 19,661 people have died from COVID-19 in the past 18 months.

Landscape of the old town of Kovachevitza in BulgariaCanva

Despite its EU member status, vaccine rollout has been slow in the country. Although vaccine scepticism is partly an issue, the country’s rollout has been stymied by procurement issues.

The government’s early bet on ordering a large number of AstraZeneca doses due to its affordability, as opposed to ordering the Pfizer shots it had access to through the EU Joint Procurement scheme, backfired when AstraZeneca under-delivered to the EU.

When the country did have a good supply, uptake from the population was encouraging. Walk-in schemes saw 30,000 Bulgarians receive shots over a three-day period. The scheme was unfortunately abandoned shortly after due to vaccine shortages.

A spokesperson for the European Commission, when asked about EU nations struggling to reach the EU’s 70 per cent vaccination goal, said, “Our responsibility is to deliver the vaccine doses, something which has been done successfully, but the members are in charge of the rollouts and are leading the vaccination campaigns.”

Share this article

You might also like