COVID19: Updated shots for elderly, vulnerable

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Older citizens and people belonging to vulnerable groups are eligible for an updated COVID-19 vaccine and the seasonal flu jab from October 2, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday.

Presenting its updated vaccination program ahead of the colder months, the Health Ministry said the latest COVID-19 vaccine will be available only to elderly citizens, who can also receive their flu shot on the same day.

Health Minister Popi Kanari said: “Based on the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) recommendations for 2023, vaccination efforts focus on protecting people at risk of severe disease, including those over 60 and other vulnerable groups, regardless of age.

“ECDC’s mathematical modelling showed that a vaccination campaign in the autumn, with an optimistic scenario of high vaccine uptake among people aged 60 and older, is expected to prevent approximately 21–32% of COVID-related hospitalisations”.

According to data provided by the minister in the European Union, the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine has been monitored since the start of the vaccination campaign in December 2020.

By August 2023, 84.9% of the EU population aged 60 and over had received a first booster dose.

For the second booster shot, the figure is a lower 35.6%, while only 4% of the population aged 60 and over have received a third jab.

The Health Ministry’s medical services director, Elisavet Constantinou, told the Financial Mirror the new vaccination programme for COVID-19 involves the latest updated vaccines.

“The rest of the population are still eligible for booster shots, but with older vaccines.

“The latest ones will also target variants in circulation at the moment,” said Constantinou.

She said updated vaccines would be available to more vulnerable groups before moving on to the wider population.

As an EU member, Cyprus has access to the most recently approved COVID-19 vaccines in quantities required to protect vulnerable groups and address the epidemiological evolution of the virus.

BioNTech-Pfizer has adapted the COVID-19 vaccine to target the SARS-CoV-2 strain Omicron XBB 1.5.

Health services expect the arrival of 158,400 of Pfizer’s Comirnaty Omicron XBB.1.5 vaccines. The first 70,000 are to be received at the beginning of October.

The ministry will also be ordering Novavax’s new updated vaccine.

Cyprus will also be receiving some 170,000 Seasonal Flu Vaccines.

The delivery of 30,000 Efluelda vaccines is expected by October 5, made available to people over 70.

Some 80,000 Vaxigrip vaccines are expected next week, and 60,000 for delivery by mid-October.

People can book their appointment over the phone.

Nicosia (Latsia) Vaccination Centre: 22849153

Limassol (Linopetra) Vaccination Centre: 25829031

Larnaca (Old General Hospital): 24818047

Paphos (General Hospital): 26803370

Polis Hospital: 26803246

Famagusta (General Hospital): 23200063