COVID19: Cyprus moves to over 88s as vaccines trickle in

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Cyprus’ Health Ministry announced that on Wednesday 9 am the COVID-19 vaccination portal will be available for people aged over 88 to book their vaccination appointment while vaccine supplies trickle in.

The decision to move down the age ladder came after demand at the Vaccination Portal to book appointments for the over 90s was reduced since out of the 5,448 appointments available only 1,135 were scheduled.

After vaccinating the majority of elderly people in care homes and their nursing staff, health services moved to phase two of its inoculation program, which includes everyone over 80.

However, earlier last week Cyprus decided to revise the second stage of its vaccination rollout with a smaller number of vaccines as some of the elderly reported they could not access the portal.

The Health Ministry received complaints from people over 90 claiming they were not able to book an appointment on the online platform as slots were taken within an hour of opening each week.

So, the ministry no longer accepts all applications for the over 80s, restricting applications to the over 90s then scaling it down into smaller age groups such as 88-89, 86-87.

When each age bracket (for example, the 86-87 group) is permitted to apply, any person older than that group will still be eligible to book a vaccination.

Public vaccinations are conducted 11 teams in nine Vaccination Centres islandwide with applicants able to choose where they wish to get vaccinated.

Soon another four vaccination centres will operate in Linopetra, Latsia, Lakatamia and Paphos.

During the week covering 16-22 January, health service carried out 7,153 vaccinations, of which 2,057 involved people who received their second jab.

In total, up to 22 January, the ministry calculates that 15,322 have received their first jab.

Based on current vaccine availability, Cyprus plans to carry out 5,000 vaccinations a week.

Vaccine delivery

There was a small interruption in the supply of Pfizer vaccines last week when Cyprus received just half of its weekly 6,825 delivery. Cyprus receives another 1,200 doses from Moderna every week.

Based on the vaccination plan for COVID-19, the total amount of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines available is 391,637 (divided into 2 doses per person) until the third quarter of 2021.

Plans to inoculate 40% of the general population by the end of June, has come under threat after AstraZeneca announced it will only be in a position to meet 40% its EU commitment for vaccine deliveries in Q1 (January to March).

AstraZeneca was expected to arrive in Cyprus by mid-February, once approved by the European Medicine Agency, but this is up in the air as EU officials are outraged with the pharmaceutical giant.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides informed members states of the situation on Monday, noting that she has sent a letter to the manufacturers seeking answers.

“The European Union has pre-financed the development of the vaccine and the production and wants to see the return.

“The European Union wants to know exactly which doses have been produced by AstraZeneca and where exactly so far and if or to whom they have been delivered,” Kyriakides told AstraZeneca.

In a statement on Monday, the Commissioner said: “The answers of the company have not been satisfactory so far”.

She insisted that Brussels wants the ordered and pre-financed doses to be delivered as soon as possible.

Cyprus has placed its biggest order of vaccines with AstraZeneca, amounting to 1,192,043, with an additional 156,668 from Moderna.

Nicosia increased its Pfizer order to 957,000 with an additional 565,000 doses expected to arrive between April and September.

The authorities have ordered around 3.5 mln doses from eight pharmaceuticals, through the EU, which correspond to inoculating its entire population three times over.