COVID19: Vaccination call reaches 57s as AstraZeneca shunned

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The Cyprus vaccination rollout moves further down the age ladder on Saturday with the health ministry calling for 57 and 58 year old to sign up for the COVID-19 inoculations, over what seems to be a surplus of AstraZeneca jabs.

The online vaccination portal opens at 8 am and closes at 8 pm for 15,000 vaccination slots available.

The takeup for Friday’s appointments for 59 and 60 year olds was disappointing with only 4,500 or a third of the 15,020 available slots booked by early afternoon, with the majority opting for health centres offering the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs.

The portal crashed on Wednesday as the system was unable to cope with the unexpected surge in requests from 61 year olds for appointments at vaccination centres providing the Pfizer and Moderna jab.

This followed a general sense of public mistrust for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that has seen an increase in in side effects, including clotting of the blood, with European governments making uncoordinated moves regarding age or patient groups.

For Saturday’s appointments, the Cyprus health ministry said that for older individuals (59 years and over), the vaccination portal will not be available, even though it said on Wednesday that those who could not book an appointment would be able to do so on Saturday.

The ministry said the change “was made to ensure the continuation of the vaccination programme of the population and because the vaccination portal’s technical issues have not been overcome.”

“From now on and until technical issues are resolved by the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, appointments will only be made available for new age groups, which will be announced in advance.

“The aim of the Ministry of Health is to restore the previous process as soon as possible, in order to enable older individuals, who have not arranged their vaccination, to do so,” the health ministry concluded.

On Friday, media reports suggested that the government is going ahead with an order for 100,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, while earlier in the week President Anastasiades said the government has ordered enough vaccines for double the island’s population.

The majority of jabs ordered by Cyprus are from AstraZeneca, with fewere from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.