COVID19: Fourth jab for high-risk groups

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Health authorities are mulling rolling out a fourth COVID-19 dose for the elderly, and immunocompromised people as data from hospitals suggest these groups are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms.

Phileleftheros daily, quoting sources close to the scientists advising the government on the coronavirus outbreak, said experts are concerned about increasing numbers of older people admitted to ICUs and eventually dying of COVID.

February has seen 27 people lose their lives, 25 of whom were older than 60. The other two victims were aged 40 and 47.

In September, older adults and the immunocompromised were the first to receive a booster shot.

However, scientists fear the evidence shows that immunity in this group has started to fade five months on.

According to the Health Ministry’s report on COVID cases and deaths released, just 55% of people in hospitals with COVID-19 were unvaccinated, the lowest since the rollout of booster shots.

And 19% of patients had not come forward for a booster shot. However, 23% of COVID-19 patients, mainly the elderly, had received a booster shot.

Booster shots were introduced in Cyprus in September for the elderly, gradually becoming available to the general public after evidence showed that immunity offered from the initial vaccination regime recedes after five to six months.

Given the significant increase in cases recorded among older people, especially among residents at nursing homes, health authorities could follow the example of other EU countries which have rolled out a fourth COVID-19 dose for high-risk groups.