Cyprus is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination rollout to encompass teenagers aged 16 and 17, as a third of recent cases were minors, health authorities said.
On Monday, the Health Ministry said in a statement that underaged teenagers would be vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) upon the consent of their parents.
It said the decision was taken to ensure the protection of public health and “after taking into account the recommendations of the Cyprus paediatric society”.
In supporting its decision, the ministry cited data from the contact tracing team suggesting “almost 30% of new coronavirus cases are people aged 18 and under, especially teenagers aged 15 to 18”.
Teenagers aged 16-17 can book appointments through the online vaccination portal, available to them from Wednesday at 7.30 am.
The portal will also continue to cater for all ages of 18 and above.
Vaccination appointments for teenagers can also be arranged through GPs or paediatricians.
When going to a vaccination centre for their COVID-19 jab, teenagers must carry a letter of consent signed by their parents or guardians and identification documents of their legal guardians.
The ministry said the scientific data suggest that minors experience similar symptoms from COVID-19 as adults.
“The timely vaccination of children will contribute to ensuring that a new outbreak of the virus in the community is prevented and that younger ages and, consequently, their family and friends are protected.”
It added: “The vaccination of students will contribute to the smooth operation of schools, with the physical presence of students”.
Cyprus has seen a new surge in cases, with Saturday’s 226 infections hitting a six-week high.
The rise is blamed on the more potent Indian variant spreading in the community and the low vaccination rate among the under 30s.
Some 63.6% of the adult population has received a COVID-19 jab, while 47.8% have completed their vaccination.