Cyprus on Saturday took delivery of its first batch of 10,000 coronavirus vaccines purchased from Pfizer-BioNTech enabling the country to begin vaccinations, officials said.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Cyprus Health Minister Constantinou Ioannou welcomed the shipment before the vaccines were transported under police escort to a location where special storage freezers are kept.
“Today is a milestone in the efforts of Europe and the rest of the world to tackle this huge health crisis,” said Ioannou.
“Receiving the vaccines today fills us with optimism and revives our morale as we are heading towards the end of this long road we are experiencing,” he added.
Cypriot EU Commissioner Kyriakides tweeted: “This is an emotional moment. After months of hard work, the day of the first dispatches of COVID-19 vaccines is here.
“Thousands of doses are being delivered today to all Member States at the same time. This is solidarity and unity in action.”
Cyprus’ vaccination programme will begin on Sunday as part of the EU-wide effort, with the first recipients being senior citizens over 80, people over 75 considered to be vulnerable to the deadly disease, and front-line health workers.
The first to be vaccinated will be an elderly resident at a care home in Nicosia, as well as a doctor and a nurse at the dedicated Covid-clinic at Famagusta General hospital.
President Nicos Anastasiades will be vaccinated on Monday during a live broadcast as part of a campaign to encourage the public to get vaccinated.
“In the next 24 hours, hope becomes tangible. We are ready to welcome the vaccine, the gift of the scientific community to humanity, we are ready to begin to slowly build the wall against the spread of the pandemic,” Anastasiades said in a message.
By the end of January, 50,000 vaccines are scheduled to arrive for 25,000 people.
Cyprus intends to inoculate the entire population of around a million, although getting the vaccine is not compulsory.
Σήμερα ελπίζουμε ότι ξημέρωσε μία αλλιώτικη μέρα. Τα πρώτα εμβόλια έφτασαν στο αεροδρόμιο Λάρνακας και αυτό σημαίνει πως από αύριο αρχίζει το τέλος της πανδημίας! Καλές γιορτές! #COVID19 #SupportVaccine #Cyprus #LarnakaAirports@MinHealthCY @CyprusPIO @SKyriakidesEU @K_Ioannou pic.twitter.com/08oOuwEgFp
— Cyprus Airports (@CyprusAeropolis) December 26, 2020