Cyprus will be taking delivery at noon on Saturday of the first 10,000 coronavirus vaccines purchased from Pfizer-BioNTech, the first pharmaceutical company whose medication has been approved by the European authorities.
Welcoming the shipment will be EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Cyprus Health Minister Constantinou Ioannou, after which the vaccines will be transport under police escort to a location where the special freezers were placed a week ago.
The 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 an old people’s home in Nicosia, as well as a doctor and a nurse at the dedicated Covid-clinic at Famagusta General hospital
President Nicos Anastasiades will receive a vaccination on Monday and will be broadcast live for the media, as part of a campaign to convince the public of the necessity to be 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, it is expected that 50,000 vaccines will have arrived to cover two doses for 25,000 people.
Cyprus will then receive the first batch of 20,000 doses from some 157,000 vaccines from Moderna.
The Health Ministry issued regulations that will determine the vaccination process, with the first recipients also getting a special card that will be proof of their vaccination.
Before leaving the vaccination centre for the first dose, the recipients must ensure the date for their second dose and strongly recommends that recipients must take both doses.
The health ministry said that the initial reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be sensitivity in the area of the injection, swelling, rash, shivers, exhaustion, headache, nausea, muscular and joint pains, symptoms of fever swelling of adenoids.
The health ministry said these symptoms should not last longer than a week and a GP must be informed.
Two men died on Christmas Day raising the death toll to 109, while the total number of infections since March is 19,366.
December is by far the worst month since the pandemic started, accounting for 58 of the deaths to date.
The health ministry said 148 patients were being treated in state hospitals, of whom 42 are critical. This was still two more patients than the previous high of 146 on Wednesday, when 34 were in a critical state.