COVID19: Cyprus launches general vaccination rollout

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Cyprus is to launch the second phase of its mass vaccination program after inoculating elderly people at care homes who were at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Essentially, mass vaccinations for COVID-19 are scheduled to start on Friday when authorities will begin vaccinating the general population starting with the over 80s, government officials said on Monday.

Health authorities have classified the general population according to risk, age, and are expected to wrap up vaccinations to frontline health staff and care home residents this week.

Cyprus health services in a joint press conference with the Deputy Ministry of Innovation on Monday said that mass vaccinations would be going live on Tuesday through an online portal, where people can arrange an appointment for a COVID-19 jab.

Cyprus on 27 December launched its vaccination programme against COVID-19 as part of an intensified drive across the European Union to curb the pandemic which has destroyed lives and its economy.

Pensioners in care homes in the capital Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol were the first to receive a shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Deputy head of the medical services Olga Kalakouta said that authorities will announce the groups to be vaccinated as the vaccination process moves along.

The vaccination rollout will start with people aged over 80, and then those over 75 years.

Each of the groups mentioned above consists of around 33,000 senior citizens.

Next to be vaccinated are people over 16 years of age who are at high-risk due to underlying health issues.

Kalakouta said that health workers and hospital staff who are not assigned to a COVID-related post will be next, before authorities call on the rest of the population, split into age groups.

People who do not belong to a particular group designated by the authorities at any given time, will not be able to register for a jab appointment on the portal.

38 vaccination centres

Kalakouta said Cyprus had drawn up a plan for 38 centres with one to three stations that would be able to administer some 350 jabs per day.

Vaccines are to be conducted at primary healthcare centres across the island with beneficiaries having the option to choose where they prefer to get inoculated.

“Once more, the Health Ministry calls on the population to respond to the call for vaccination against COVID-19, as it is the most effective measure to protect ourselves and our loved ones from infection and its possible negative effects,” Kalakouta said.

She said that authorities expect to vaccinate half of the population by the summer, depending on two factors, the flow of the vaccines and the public’s response.

Minister of Innovation Kyriacos Kokkinos said the platform enabling the public to book their vaccination appointment will be operational from Tuesday.

“From Tuesday, people aged 80 and above will be able to register through the portal, which is available on the General Health System (GHS) website.”

Kokkinos said those who are not registered with the GHS or do not wish to do so, can fill in a form which can be found on the Ministry’s website.

“Vaccination is not just an investment in science but an investment in life. The future depends on each one of us individually.”

After registering on the portal, people will receive a confirmation via text message. Those who cannot access the portal can be registered by their GPs, family members, or friends.

Appointments for Limassol and Famagusta can be set up on January 7 onwards.

People vaccinated will receive a vaccination card describing the type of vaccine received, as well as the date for their second shot.

The platform will be connected to EU databases that can be used to issue vaccination certificates, once the second dose of the vaccine is administrated some three weeks after the first one.

A Health Ministry representative confirmed to the Financial Mirror that authorities are sticking to their initial plans to vaccinate 350 people a day.

Ministry spokesperson Margarita Kyriacou said the health services have received the second batch of 6,800 COVID-19 doses from Pfizer with another 6,800-batch expected next week. The first batch received on 27 December consisted of 9,750 shots.