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COVID19: Pharmacies run out of flu jabs, health ministry steps in

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Pharmacies have sold out of flu jabs early September with the state stepping in to meet heightened demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Cyprus Pharmacists Association said.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, the Association’s chairwoman Elena Piera said: “People had panicked and rushed to get the flu shot because of the COVID-19 situation and as a result, the stocks of pharmacies have been depleted”.

Piera said 25,000 flu shots were distributed at the beginning of September and approximately 20,000 are expected in October, but so far it is unknown whether this will happen.

She added that pharmacies ordered very small quantities because it has been announced that the flu shots would be given by GPs through the national health system.

Addressing the shortage of flu jabs at pharmacies, Head of the Health Insurance Organisation’s (HIO) drugs team Gnosia Achnioti said authorities are expected to receive 135,000 flu shots in the coming months to be given to people in vulnerable groups for free.

Noting that the state ordered 63% more vaccines compared to last year, Achnioti argued that the health authorities had placed their orders in a timely manner.

“However, due to increased demand it is not possible to receive the whole quantity at once,” she said

GPs will be receiving the first batch of vaccines in the next 15 days.

She said the vaccines will be distributed to General Practitioners according to their number of patients.

“Priority will be given to vulnerable groups with serious conditions, they will have free access to the vaccine.”

“Children under 15 and elderly people over 65 who do not belong to vulnerable groups can get the shot for free but at a later stage,” said Achnioti.