Increased pressure on anti-vaxxers to get jabbed seems to have paid off, with thousands heading to walk-in vaccination centres on Wednesday, particularly Limassol, a stronghold of Covid-deniers.
An eye-witness at the Spyros Kyprianou sports centre in Limassol told the Financial Mirror there were “frighteningly long queues” for both the walk-in line, where people had been waiting for almost two hours and appointment-only lines.
“I was in line for an hour and 45 minutes. It reminded me of the long line of people in London waiting at the Apple stores to get a hold of the new iPhone”, she said.
“They all seem to have come out of the woodwork.”
After the huge turnout, Health Ministry officials merged the two lines, causing further frustration and prompting protests.
Booster shots at walk-in centres are mainly mRNA jabs by Pfizer, while people are requesting Astra-Zeneca for their third jab or the alternative mRNA by Moderna, which is in limited supply.
The same scene was repeated at the State Fair in Nicosia, where people showing up for their third scheduled booster jab faced unexpectedly long queues.
Many came for their first jab, while others who had been hesitant for the second jab or the booster third were prompted to show up due to anticipated restrictions during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Monday’s vaccination total was 10,918 jabs, and 11,021 on Tuesday, higher than the daily average 8,320 throughout the past week.
This number is expected to have been exceeded on Wednesday.
On Monday, the Cabinet reduced the minimum wait time for a second or third dose from 6 months to 5 months and two weeks, while stricter measures are in force for entry to many venues, making life difficult for the unvaccinated.
The unvaccinated are banned from hospitality and social events such as weddings and christenings, as tighter COVID-19 restrictions were introduced.
Measures introduced hope to boost vaccination rates in the wake of Omicron, a more transmissible variant of coronavirus threatening to more than double daily cases.
To get into an event, restaurant or bar, people need to prove they have been fully vaccinated.
The ban on the unvaccinated also includes restaurants, cafes, pubs, theatres, stadiums, and cinemas.
People with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine must carry a negative PCR or rapid test.
Carrying a negative PCR test, not older than 72 hours, or a 48-hour rapid test for hospitality venues is also required for people eligible for a booster shot if seven months have passed.
Rapid tests for the above group will still be available for free.
Health authorities are also launching a COVID-19 vaccination programme for children aged five to eleven on Thursday. They will receive 10mg of the Pfizer vaccine instead of 30mg.
CovScan turns green if the certificate is valid and means the holder has completed their vaccination or has recovered from Covid-19 within the last six months.
Yellow or Orange means the certificate is valid and the holder has undergone PCR or rapid test with a negative result, while red means the document is invalid.
From Saturday, a new colour, purple, will be introduced to the CovScan for those who have had one dose of a vaccine or seven months have passed since completing their vaccination regimen.
This will alert the establishment to ask for a negative PCR or rapid test proof.
The Digital, Research and Innovation Deputy Ministry announced that the European portal issuing Covid certificates (EUDCC) generates certificates for the booster or third jab.
To get a new certificate or update their existing one with the booster information, this has to be done at www.eudcc.gov.cy.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry and the Commissioner for Rural Development are organising a vaccination and awareness day at the district elementary school in Kalo Chorio, near Limassol, from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm.
Eligible for vaccination is anyone 12 or older who have not yet been vaccinated, received the Pfizer/Biontech or Moderna jabs at least three or four weeks earlier, and the booster shots.
Those who received the single-dose Janssen jab (Johnson & Johnson) may receive an mRNA booster shot by Pfizer or Moderna.