COVID19: Jabs for Africa, not anti-vaxxers

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Health authorities should stop wasting time and taxpayers’ money trying to convince unvaccinated Cypriots to get a COVID-19 jab and send vaccines where they are most needed, said a former government advisor.

Cyprus should be sending leftover vaccine stocks to countries where the vaccination rollout is suffering, said virologist Dr Leondios Kostrikis.

The former lead advisor on COVID-19 told the website Stockwatch that authorities should send out an ‘ultimatum’ to the unvaccinated to reply whether they will get the jab.

Dr Kostrikis said: “The saga with unvaccinated who say they do not want to be vaccinated, or say they will be vaccinated, but in the end, are not vaccinated, maintaining an irritating attitude towards the state, should come to an end.

“Because vaccination against COVID-19 is a universal endeavour, some argue that a country cannot proceed with the third dose at a time when there are countries that have not covered their population even with the first dose of the vaccine, such as countries in Africa.

“I believe the state should at some point give an ultimatum to those who are still considering whether or not to be vaccinated.

“Because the state cannot keep vaccines, bought with taxpayers’ money, in refrigerators indefinitely until they decide to do so.

“So, I believe that to be consistent with our universal obligations, the government should give a period to those who have not yet been vaccinated, for example, two weeks, and if they do not want to use the vaccines, the state should ship these quantities to other countries that need them.”

Dr Kostrikis acknowledged that this suggestion would be perceived as direct pressure on the unvaccinated, “but there is no other choice”.

Cyprus vaccination rollout has been staggering since it reached 80% of its adult population with one shot since mid-September.

According to the latest update from the Health Ministry, some 26,097 people have received a COVID-19 booster shot, while 81.5% of the adult population has been jabbed, and 79% are fully vaccinated.

And 41.5% of teenagers 16 and 17 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while some 27.4% of 12 to 15-year-olds have received one dose.