COVID19: Cyprus starts booster jabs in care homes

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Cyprus has started rolling its COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to residents of care homes as the first inoculations were carried out on Friday.

The launch of Cyprus’ third round of COVID-19 shots came after Thursday’s Cabinet decision to enhance the waning immunity levels of the elderly and vulnerable groups.

Friday’s rollout was announced by the acting director of the Pharmaceutical Services, Elena Panayiotopoulou, in comments to state radio CyBC.

Third doses will be given to people over 65, those living in care homes, the immunosuppressed of all ages, and health professionals, provided that at least six months have elapsed since the completion of their vaccination scheme.

The majority of older people and healthcare professionals completed their vaccination as early as January, some eight months ago.

Studies have shown that immunity levels of the elderly can start to wane five months after their second shot.

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.

Panayiotopoulou said that following the administration in nursing homes, the third dose would also be administered in other facilities hosting vulnerable groups.

“The procedures for the other groups that will be given the third dose will be accelerated, with the details of when and how the rollout will be carried out to be announced in the coming days.”

According to Panayiotopoulou, the over 65s and other eligible groups will probably be called to book their booster shot through the vaccination portal.

Meanwhile, the UK has decided to roll out booster shots for everyone over the age of 12 who was severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV, and recent organ transplants.

The UK has yet to decide on a booster program for the broad population, but reports say that health authorities are not far from making the call.

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

Cyprus has reported 114,366 COVID-19 cases and 508 deaths.