COVID19: Booster shots for younger age groups

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Cyprus is considering extending its COVID-19 booster shot rollout to younger ages as an uptick in daily coronavirus cases has scientists concerned the fifth wave of infections is coming.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Dr Zoe Dorothea Pana, advisor to the government on the coronavirus outbreak, said scientists would suggest the age limit is lowered for booster shots.

Winter usually ushers in an increase in COVID-19 infections.

“Having in mind that winter is around the corner and that our primary goal is to keep the community’s immunity levels high, scientists are not against the idea of booster shots for younger ages,” said Dr Pana.

She explained that with cases increasing and data indicating that booster shots are both safe and effective in keeping immunity levels high, scientists would be considering tabling a suggestion to the government.

This could happen within the next few days, as the team of advisors is scheduled to meet on Wednesday.

“We need to, however, make full use of the data and recommendations from international medicine agencies on the matter.

“The fact the US Directorate of Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has delivered a clear recommendation for booster shots for people over 18 makes our task easier.”

The European Medicine Agency leaves the decision for rolling out booster shots for people over 18 to the national authorities of member states.

Under the EMA guidelines, each country’s health authority takes its own decisions based on the profile of its population.

“Some states have an older population, or more vulnerable groups, while others are behind in their initial vaccination rollout.”

Dr Pana said what is important is that all medical authorities have said that booster shots are safe and effective and can be used for all ages.

Currently, only those aged 60 and over are eligible for a booster jab.

This Cyprus reported well over 200 daily cases, 280 on Monday and 249 on Tuesday.

It has unfurled a booster programme for everyone aged 60 and over, health workers and people belonging to vulnerable groups, who have completed theirs at least six months earlier.

According to the latest data, Cyprus has fully vaccinated 79.9% of its adult population, or 572,768 people, while 82.2% or 588,118 have received a COVID vaccine.

Around 42.7% of teenagers aged 16 and 17 have received a COVID-19 vaccine shot.

In the 12 to 15 age group, the ratio is 28.6%.

Some 589,816 people, or 66.4% of the population, are fully vaccinated, while 39,850 had a booster shot.

Walk-in centres have vaccinated 101,956 people.

Cyprus has reported 124,973 SARS-CoV-2 infections since March 2020 and 575 deaths.