COVID19: Cyprus offers jabs to those aged 53, AstraZeneca snubbed

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Cyprus’ vaccination program will reach people aged 53 on Friday, as the Health Ministry announces more COVID-19 jabs are available to book with thousands of AstraZeneca doses snubbed.

The online appointments portal will be available to those aged 55 and 56 on Tuesday and Wednesday, climbing down to 53 and 54 on Friday.

Some 20,000 shots will be made available for people aged 55 and 56 from Tuesday 7 am till Wednesday 8 pm.

Vaccine quantities to be made available for people aged 53-54 on Friday and Saturday will be announced later.

Cyprus’ vaccination rollout had until recently been climbing down the age ladder while still allowing older people to book an appointment.

However, the Health Ministry has revised its strategy allowing only specific ages access.

The decision came after vaccinations hit a speed bump following reports of a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and extremely rare blood clotting incidents.

The ministry said it changed policy due to technical problems arising from a virtual stampede last week when thousands of people rushed to book an appointment for any vaccine other than AstraZeneca.

The portal was made available for those over 61, with most AstraZeneca vaccines remaining on the shelf.

Those eligible snapped up Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as soon as the portal opened but turned their backs on AstraZeneca, of which Cyprus has considerably more quantities.

People aged 61, 62 and 63 will have another chance to book a slot on Thursday, said Health Ministry spokeswoman Margarita Kyriacou, acknowledging there was “a hesitancy” regarding AstraZeneca.

Only 5,000 of the 15,000 vaccination slots made available for people aged 57 and 58 on Friday and Saturday were taken up.

All 3,200 Pfizer vaccines were grabbed, but only 1,800 of more than 10,000 AstraZeneca jabs booked.

Cyprus will receive additional Pfizer vaccines in May and June after exercising its right to buy more doses.

Around 6,000 Moderna vaccines will also be delivered this week.

Kyriacou told CyBC TV that all four vaccines in circulation in the EU were safe and effective, and the choice the public should be making was to be vaccinated with any vaccine available.

She urged people to book their appointments, stressing that any delay in getting vaccinated could lead to people developing severe symptoms or ending up in hospital.