Private pharmacies’ stocks of flu vaccines have run completely dry as a result of a widespread sense of panic as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, head of the Pancyprian Pharmaceutical Association Eleni Piera said Wednesday.
In early September, some 25,000 flu vaccines were distributed to pharmacies, but stocks ran out almost immediately as the Cyprus public rushed to secure a vaccine amidst the coronavirus public health crisis.
Piera noted that pharmacies had made small orders for flu vaccines as it had been announced that the vaccines would mainly be administered through GESY.
She noted that after the first batch that was distributed in September, an additional 20,000 flu vaccines are expected to be distributed among private pharmacies in October.
“While vulnerable groups were supposed to be placed on a priority list by their GPs and invited to make an appointment for the vaccine, the delay in conjunction with a sense of panic led vulnerable groups to turn to pharmacies for the vaccine,” Pieri said, resulting in the batch received in September to be “gone in the blink of an eye.”
She added that particular problems are created for people who are not covered by the Protocol of the Ministry of Health to be vaccinated by their GPs, and so are now unable to get the flu vaccine via pharmacies as stocks are dry.
"So people who think they should be vaccinated are left helpless, without anyone being able to give them a vaccine,” Piera said, decrying the fact that Cypriots resort to securing vaccines from pharmacies in Greece as local pharmacies don’t have an adequate supply.
Piera stressed that private pharmacies should be tasked with administering flu vaccines, as is the case across all European countries, as “consumers have a right to purchase the vaccine.”
Piera expressed hope that flu vaccines will become available for the public, either through pharmacies or doctors, noting that the public is currently extremely anxious as many are stuck in waiting lists with no real timeframe as to when they’ll have access to the vaccine.
HIO: vaccine numbers 63% higher than last year
Responding to the issue of the lack of flu vaccines in pharmacies, the head of the Health Insurance Organization’s drug team Gnosia Achnioti said that 135,000 vaccines are expected to be received in total, an amount that is 63% higher than last year’s, when 88,000 were receiving and of which 5,000 were not requested.
Achnioti noted that orders for seasonal flu vaccines were made in a timely manner by the health ministry, as per a recommendation by the National Vaccination Committee in which many bodies participate. Due to increased global demand, she added, it wasn’t possible for the entire amount to be delivered in one batch.
GPs, she said, have already received the first batch, with three more to follow until the end of November.
Achnioti explained that vaccines are distributed among GPs according to the number of patients under their watch, while GPs have been instructed by the health ministry to prioritize needs.