Cyprus is looking at encouraging younger people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including incentives such as gift vouchers but disincentives for those who refuse to get jabbed.
The Cabinet is scheduled to convene on Friday evening to discuss proposals on expediting the vaccination programme.
“Almost 30% of new coronavirus cases are people aged 18 and under, especially teenagers aged 15 to 18,” said the Healthy Ministry on why it is offering vaccines to teenagers aged 16-17.
Some incentives have been tabled by Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, following the UK’s decision to keep the Mediterranean island in its ‘no go’ amber category.
Cyprus remaining in amber requires tourists from the UK to go into 10-day self-isolation upon their return and take two PCR tests, which can cost up to £200 each.
The British market made up one-third of the record 3.97 million tourist arrivals in 2019.
The government looking at financial incentives similar to those introduced in Greece, where authorities are trying to lure young people under the age of 26 to get a COVID-19 jab in exchange for a €150 voucher.
Vouchers given to Greek youngsters are redeemable in the tourism service industry, such as buying air, ferry tickets and paying for hotel accommodation.
Authorities are toying with the possibility of re-establishing the need for a Safe Pass even for outdoor areas of restaurants, pubs, and other hospitality venues, given an alarming coronavirus spread in recent weeks.
Free rapid tests could be suspended to add more pressure on younger people to get vaccinated.
Also, the Defence Ministry is looking into whether recruits could be given some days extra leave if they opt to get jabbed.
Government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos told the press on Tuesday that the government is not looking at making unvaccinated people wear a
Coronavirus cases have been steadily rising in recent days, peaking at 314 on Monday with a positivity rate of 0.8%.
Hospitalisations are slightly up but remain low at around 50 compared with the peak of 200 only a few months ago.
President Nicos Anastasiades conveyed the government’s concern over the rising coronavirus cases amongst unvaccinated youth, noting that 70% of people under 40 have not had a jab.
He said getting vaccinated is a “national duty”.
“Young people should understand they are not immune and that being unvaccinated is not something to be proud of.”
“It is unacceptable for 70% of those under the age of 40 to be unvaccinated. It is equally unacceptable that nine out of ten people who are admitted to hospitals have not been vaccinated.”