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28 September, 2021
 
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Nicosia leaves booster shot up to Brussels

Government worried about senior home cases, mulls over lowering vax age ahead of school season

Newsroom

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela says while government planning includes preparations for a third jab for vaccinated adults and seniors, the booster shot is subject to approval in Brussels.

Hadjipantela met on Monday with health experts on the government’s pandemic advisory committee, with reports saying nothing had been decided on a host of issues, including infections in senior homes, vaccinations in general and lowering age groups, as well as back to school planning.

The newly-appointed minister, who had his first radio interview on Monday morning, said a possible new lockdown had not been discussed during the meeting.

But he said Safe Pass measures could be improved if necessary, pointing out the decision would be ultimately taken by the Cabinet later in the week.

Hadjipantela also said a third vaccine shot was possible, following reports of COVID infections in senior homes.

Health experts have raised the issue after scores of cases were detected in senior homes, where elderly persons were known to have been vaccinated earlier in the year.

Health experts have raised the issue after scores of cases were detected in senior homes, where elderly persons were known to have been vaccinated earlier in the year

Immunity among people in vulnerable groups as well as the elderly has been a topic of discussion, with Hadjipantela saying a third shot was included in the government’s plans but no decision could be taken yet.

"We need to respect that we are in the European Union, we have to make the same decision," Hadjipantela said, adding that “preparations are underway but the green light will need to come from the European Union.”

Earlier this month, the European Medicines Agency said it was too early to confirm if and when an additional booster shot would be needed.

But the EU drug regulator also said both doses of two-shot coronavirus vaccines, such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna, were needed to protect against the fast-spreading Delta variant, which has taken a toll on Cyprus.

The minister also said there was discussion about the lowering of age for the Covid vaccine ahead of the start of the school year, with Hadjipantela alluding to different proposals under discussion.

A number of vaccines have been approved for teenagers, with reports saying different age criteria based on company indications and other factors had to be weighed by experts and stakeholders locally, including professional networks of pediatricians.

Hadjipantela also said the situation in state hospitals was discussed during Monday's meeting, following reports that worst case scenarios and emergency staffing were once again the topic of discussion among state officials and health administrators.

CNA reported Monday that out of 270 patients in hospitals, 76 were said to be in serious condition, 31 of whom were intubated and 45 receiving intensive care.

State officials have not said how many serious cases in hospitals were vaccinated but cited recent statements suggesting the vast majority of hospitalized patients were not vaccinated.

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