The delivery of the first batches of COVID-19 vaccines is less than a month away, as the Republic’s health authorities prepare to begin vaccinations early in the new year, according to Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Ioannou said that based on information received from the European Commission, which has taken on a coordinating role on the issue of vaccine supply, the distribution of the first quantities of vaccines is expected to start simultaneously to all member states by the end of December.
Ioannou said that health authorities have valid reasons to hope that “we will be receiving the first batch of vaccines in early January, with vaccinations beginning immediately, according to the ministry’s plan”.
Referring to the vaccination plan itself, Ioannou said that, “initially priority will be given to health professionals and those who work in the front line, at the reference hospital, in COVID-19 wards, in the intensive care units, and in accident and emergency rooms.”
He added that based on the ECDC directives and the results of clinical trials for each vaccine, vulnerable groups of the population who have an increased risk of contracting coronavirus will be the next to be called in for the vaccine.
Ioannou said that the authorities aim to vaccinate the majority of the population, noting that the government has taken steps towards acquiring large quantities of vaccines through the European Commission.
The minister explained that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 would not be obligatory and will be free with the process being supervised by the Health Ministry’s Epidemiological Surveillance Unit.
According to previous comments made by the government’s advisors on handling the coronavirus crisis, Cyprus is to receive a first batch of some 48,000 vaccines from Pfizer at the end of the month, which are to cover some 24,000 health professionals.
The Health Ministry’s timetable has another 120,000 or so vaccines arriving from Astra Zeneca in early January after obtaining license from the European Medicine Agency. The country’s authorities are expecting some 1.8 million doses being provided by a number of companies over an extended period of time.
The ministry’s timetable has vaccinations being completed sometime in Q2 2022.
On Tuesday morning, the United Kingdom became the first western nation to begin vaccinating citizens with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot outside of clinical trials, with health professionals at hospitals, as well as selected people over 80 and nursing home workers being selected to be among the first recipients.
90-year-old Margaret Keenan was the first to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Coventry.