COVID19: More underaged teenagers vaccinated

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Over a third of teenagers aged 16 to 17 and 20% of children aged 12 to 15 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, ahead of schools opening next week.

Health authorities have made vaccinating school students a priority in their drive to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control.

Recent data has shown that children are more susceptible to the deadlier Delta variant than the wild SARS-CoV2 strain and are more likely to spread the virus.

In a written statement, the Health Ministry said as of 31 August, the vaccination coverage for teenagers aged 16 to 17 reached 36.4%, with 29% of them having received both doses.

Some 18.2% of children aged 12 to 15 have received one jab, while 5.8% have completed their vaccination against COVID-19.

The government argues that vaccinating school kids will be vital to conducting the academic year without interruption.

In July, Cyprus began vaccinating 16 to 18-year-olds, while 12 to 15-year-olds started receiving the jab in August.

Meanwhile, the island’s health authorities fell short of their goal to vaccinate 80% of the adult population with at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of 31 August, 79% received the first dose, and 74.2% completed their vaccination scheme.

Health experts argue that if Cyprus wants to contain the virus and its more potent variants, around 80-85% of the population needs to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Earlier, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas was hopeful the vaccination percentage would reach 82% for the first jab by the end of August.

Health authorities seem to be having difficulty convincing young adults to get the jab as less than half of teenagers under 20 have received one.

For young adults aged 18 to 19, vaccination stands at 48.6%, while 60.4% of those aged 20 to 29 have received at least one jab.

Coverage with at least one dose is higher in older age groups, reaching 70.8% of those aged 30 to 39, 87.5% for the 40 to 49 age group, coverage drops to 82.8% in the 50 to 59 age group.

Older people have been the most willing to take the jab, as coverage in the age group of 60 to 69 stands at 88.8%, 97% for those aged 70 to 79, and 97.6% for people aged 80 and older.

Paphos maintains the highest vaccination coverage at a district level, with 89.6% of its population having received one dose.

Famagusta has 87.3%, Nicosia 78% and Limassol with 77.1%.

Larnaca has the lowest vaccination coverage, with 72.7%.

Walk-in centres, which have boosted the island’s vaccination efforts, will continue to operate.

These centres are open for all citizens, including those not registered with Cyprus’ General Healthcare Scheme (GHS).

Since the beginning of their operation on 15 July, a total of 43,690 vaccine doses were administered at the walk-in centres.

Authorities are all set to roll out booster shots in early September for elderly and vulnerable people who have completed their vaccination scheme over six months ago.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas will submit a Cabinet proposal on Thursday to approve administrating booster shots.