Half of Cyprus’ health workers have chosen not to get a COVID-19 vaccine; it was revealed Tuesday following three frontline nurses testing positive for coronavirus after opting out of the vaccination program.
There are three cases concerning nurses working at Nicosia’s Makarios children’s hospital neonatal ICU.
Authorities were further alarmed after a baby has also contracted the virus in the same hospital.
There was also a fourth nurse from the same hospital who is self-isolating after being in contact with a known case, according to the state health services organisation (OKYPY) spokesman Charalambos Charilaou.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, Charilaou confirmed the nurses in question had opted not to receive a Covid vaccine, as it is not mandatory to do so.
“The issue does not end with the nurses at the Makarios hospital, as 50% of all health workers in state hospitals have not come forward to get vaccinated,” said Charilaou.
Cyprus health authorities had put a programme in place to vaccinate all medical staff in state hospitals.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t achieved that goal.
“We haven’t reached very high levels of vaccine coverage of personnel, and there is not much we can do about it.”
Charilaou noted that making a COVID-19 jab mandatory for nurses and doctors may not be the way forward, as it raises several human rights issues.
“OKYPY has launched an awareness campaign to convince health workers to get vaccinated.”
He argued that, in any case, hospitals implement tight protocols which have kept COVID cases transmitted in hospitals low.
Meanwhile, five babies are being treated with COVID at the Makarios hospital, with one being infected during its stay there, said the head of Makarios hospital paediatric clinic, Avram Elia.
Elia sought to allay concerns regarding the babies health, saying that none of them was in danger from the virus.
Israel bans unvaccinated staff
In Israel, hospitals have banned unvaccinated medical staff from coming into contact with patients.
Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Centre on Tuesday decreed that unvaccinated medical staff can no longer treat patients.
The Israeli health ministry has also issued a directive calling for unvaccinated staff and students to be barred from working in specific departments across Israeli hospitals and in community healthcare.
Getting a COVID vaccine could soon become mandatory for UK care workers who look after the most elderly.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that while vaccines would not be made mandatory for the general public, they could be required for those whose profession sees them work with the most vulnerable.
Hancock said the government will also be looking into whether getting a COVID vaccine could become mandatory across the board for all health workers.
He commented that there were “important moral questions” around the issue but highlighted a “clear precedent for this proposition” was the existing requirement for NHS doctors to have a Hepatitis B vaccine.