COVID19: Jabs for children demand grows

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Vaccinations against Covid-19 of children aged 5 to 11 gets underway on Friday, with authorities overwhelmed with requests from parents to have their children vaccinated.

Health authorities have fallen short of their calculations, as demand exceeded the ministry expectations, with parents reporting they are having difficulty getting through to book an appointment for their children.

An official at Nicosia’s children vaccination centre in Latsia told Kathimerini daily that all available vaccination appointments for children have been exhausted for December.

Parents calling in for an appointment are given dates in January and onwards.

Vaccination appointments at this Health Centre are arranged only twice a week (Monday & Tuesday).

The Health Ministry told Kathimerini it is aware of the high demand, especially in Nicosia and is working on finding a solution.

At the moment, authorities can only perform 45 vaccinations of children a day in the capital.

The vaccination centre in Latsia is the only one catering to children under 11.

Currently, parents can only book an appointment by phone, but bookings will be carried out exclusively through the online vaccination portal from next Tuesday.

Initial thoughts to make vaccines available through paediatricians were shelved for practical reasons, president of the paediatricians’ association Michalis Anastasiades told CyBC, citing the sensitivity of the vaccine and the need to avoid crowding.

The Health Ministry said jabs would be administered at maternity and child welfare centres adapted to cater only to children.

Appointments can be made by phone, but from 9.00 am on 21 December, these will only be available through the vaccination portal.

Nicosia: Latsia health centre, Monday and Tuesday 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, phone 22849150 and 22467496

Limassol: old hospital, Monday and Friday, 8.00 am to 2.00 pm (25829031)

Kyperounta: vaccination centre, Monday 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm, (25813200)

Larnaca: old Larnaca hospital, Wednesday and Friday, 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, (24818047)

Paphos: Paphos general Wednesday and Friday, 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, (26803246)

Polis Chrysochous: maternity centre, Tuesday and Friday 9.00 am to 2.00 pm, (26803246)

Famagusta: Famagusta hospital, Wednesday and Friday, 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, (23200063)

The Pfizer vaccine used to vaccinate children have a smaller dosage than those administered to people over 12.

This age group will be administered a 10mg dose compared to 30 mg administered to children over 12.

The ministry said studies indicate the vaccine is 90.7% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid.

Side effects are similar to those over 12 and are usually mild or moderate and improve within a few days of vaccination.

Meanwhile, according to authorities, a 10% increase has been recorded in the vaccinations of children aged 12-15 years.

In comments to state radio CyBC, the Acting Director of Medical Services, Olga Kalakouta, said awareness campaigns at schools are beginning to pay off.

Kalakouta said that 50.8% of teenagers aged 16 and 17 had received one jab.

Some 81.8% of the adult population are fully vaccinated.