COVID19: Alarm at vaccinated elderly in ICUs

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Health authorities are anxious over the steady increase of fully vaccinated older adults contracting COVID-19 and landing in ICUs while the booster shot rollout lags.

According to Health Ministry data released on Thursday, five completed their initial vaccination scheme out of the 12 patients in ICUs at state hospitals.

The average age of the five patients is 71.6 ranging from 67 to 82 years.

Some 35-40% of cases in COVID wards have been fully vaccinated, with an average age of 64.

Meanwhile, as the ministry notes, just 13% of people over 60 eligible for a booster shot have come forward.

Although 184,912 people, or 95% of a total of the 194,673 in the age group 60 plus, have been fully vaccinated, just 13%, or 24,940, have received a booster shot.

The elderly who have received a booster shot does not, however, include residents at nursing homes.

A total of 2,730 residents and health workers at nursing homes have been vaccinated.

From the day the booster jab rollout launched (September 3) until October 19, 32,176 people had received the third dose of a vaccine, including medical staff.

Data coming in from the online vaccination portal is also far from encouraging.

On Tuesday, when the portal opened to the over 60s, just 324 people booked an appointment.

From October 15, when authorities rolled out the booster scheme for online appointments, just 1,144 were booked.

Scientists are calling on older people from vulnerable groups to get a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as data from the past two weeks shows an increase in the number of vaccinated people in hospitals.

Health experts advising the government on the coronavirus outbreak warn that current measures may need to be tweaked as vaccination alone does not provide full protection.

“The data we have before us reveals the vaccinated have not understood the degree of danger and as a state, we have not yet managed to adapt to the new phase of the pandemic,” the head of the Advisory Scientific Committee, Dr Constantinos Tsioutis, told Phileleftheros daily.

“We cannot stick to the tactics we were following six months ago or a year ago.

“We need to review, analyse the new data and not let the pandemic overtake us; instead, we should try and get a few steps ahead.”

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas on Wednesday did not rule out the possibility of reinstating compulsory testing for all if the scientists find it would be helpful.

Meanwhile, experts are also worried over the reappearance of transmissions at schools, with a Limassol and Nicosia elementary school closing down after large clusters were found.

Some 17 cases were found among 47 students at an elementary school in Nicosia, while 23 were found at the larger Limassol one, with cases found in seven different classes.