COVID19: Cyprus to give booster jab to over 65s

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The Cabinet on Thursday approved the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to the elderly, vulnerable groups and health professionals who completed their vaccination at least six months ago.

The decision was among measures approved by the Cabinet on Thursday to put a lid on COVID-19 infections.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said a third dose would be given to people over 65, those living in care homes, the immunosuppressed of all ages, and health professionals, provided it has been six months since their second jab.

Scientists advised the government to introduce COVID-19 booster doses, following evidence of waning immunity levels amongst the elderly and vulnerable groups.

Cyprus’ decision comes after the European Medicines Agency said on Thursday that additional doses should already be considered for people with severely weakened immune systems as part of their primary vaccination.

The ECDC, however, said there is no urgency for booster shots to be administered to the general public.

Hadjipantelas said universities could go ahead with reopening at two-thirds of their capacity, allowing only students and staff with a Safe Pass on their premises.

And current measures will remain in force until 22 September, including the requirement for people to present a Safe Pass to access busy venues, such as restaurants, clubs, hotels, and gyms.

A Safe Pass is proof of being vaccinated, recovered from the virus in the past six months, or a negative PCR or rapid test not older than 72 hours.

“After two months in the red, the numbers show we are on the right path to stop the gallop of the deadly virus and its mutations,” the minister said.

“The situation in public hospitals is very good, and hospitalisations are dropping continuously.”

He argued that relaxing personal protection measures caused an increase in infections and hospitalisations.

Health authorities have contained the fourth wave of infections driven by the virus’s Delta variant, which triggered a record 1,152 daily cases in mid-July.

“The majority of our fellow citizens made an effort to overcome obstacles, which just a few weeks ago seemed impossible.

“Important steps have been taken to stop the Delta variant and curb the reluctance of some to get vaccinated,” said Hadjipantelas.

He said Cyprus had the second-lowest mortality rate among European Union countries after Finland.

Cyprus has recorded 507 deaths and 114,131 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began in March 2020.

As of 31 August, 74.2% of the population are fully vaccinated, and 79% have received one shot.