COVID19: Scientists to decide on 12–15-year-olds getting jab

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Scientists advising the government on coronavirus will convene on Thursday to discuss whether children under 16 should be included in Cyprus’ vaccination rollout.

The majority of scientists appear to err on the side of caution, arguing that such a decision should be postponed for a couple more months pending the results of mass vaccinations of children in other European countries.

So far, the main proposals tabled are to induct children over 12 into the vaccination program or vaccinate teenagers belonging to vulnerable groups.

Another proposal, according to reports, is only to add 15-years-olds to the programme, thus covering the three final years of the education system.

Teenagers aged 16 and 17 can get vaccinated on their parents’ consent.

In comments to CyBC radio, Dr Maria Koliou, a paediatrician and government advisor, said there is no consensus on the matter.

She said Cyprus would probably wait for the outcome of clinical trials and mass vaccinations taking place in child populations in other countries.

“However, we have seen cases of children with serious symptoms from COVID being treated in hospital.

“This comes as no surprise as the Delta variant is proven to affect children more than the original virus.”

She said scientists feel that teenagers could get vaccinated to allow them to attend school after two turbulent years.

Scientists are considering child vaccinations, as the more aggressive Delta variant of coronavirus has pushed daily COVID-19 cases to record highs.

It is estimated that 80-90% of the population will need to be vaccinated to build herd immunity against variants.

Recent anti-vaxxer protests have shown that a proportion of the public is adamantly against a COVID-19 jab.

So far, 72.2% of people over 18 have been vaccinated with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 63.5% have completed their course.

One out of four 16 to 17-year-olds has also received a COVID-19 shot.

Authorities are also concerned over a possible resurgence of the virus amongst students once schools reopen in September.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, government advisor and virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis said it is most likely that Cyprus will follow other EU countries and vaccinate younger teens.

The US, Canada and Greece are among those countries that have gone ahead with vaccinating the over-12s.

The UK opted to vaccinate children only over the age of 12 who are at a higher risk of getting ill or living with vulnerable household members.

Meanwhile, walk-in centres have boosted Cyprus’ vaccination rollout as over 8,000 vaccinations have been carried out since being introduced on 15 July.

From Friday 6 August, and every Friday after that, walk-in centres will cater to people not registered with the General Health System.