Cyprus' Ministry of Health has unveiled its vaccination strategy for the upcoming fall/winter season, targeting COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. Key highlights include:
Simultaneous Vaccination: Both COVID-19 and seasonal flu vaccines will be administered concurrently at Ministry of Health Vaccination Centers, while personal physicians will continue to offer influenza shots for those opting out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Focus on Vulnerable Groups: The vaccination effort will prioritize individuals aged 60 and above and those with underlying health conditions or immunosuppression.
Start Date: Vaccinations begin on October 2, 2023, with appointments required initially for high-risk groups.
Influenza Strategy: Aligning with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the plan aims to protect vulnerable individuals most susceptible to severe influenza cases.
Targeting Diverse Groups: In addition to the elderly, the strategy includes healthy children, adolescents, and professionals to reduce influenza transmission.
Access to Approved Vaccines: Cyprus, as an EU member, will have access to approved COVID-19 vaccines in adequate quantities to safeguard vulnerable populations and adapt to the virus's changing dynamics.
Vaccine Adaptation: BioNTech Pfizer has tailored the COVID-19 vaccine to target the Omicron XBB 1.5 strain, following ECDC and EMA recommendations.
Vaccine Orders: Cyprus has secured a substantial supply of adapted Pfizer vaccines and awaits EMA approval for the new Novavax vaccine.
Seasonal Influenza Vaccine: Cyprus expects 170,000 influenza vaccines, including 30,000 doses of the Efluelda vaccine, for individuals over 70.
Booster Doses: Among those aged 60 and above in the EU, 84.9% received the first booster dose by August 2023. However, second and third booster dose rates stand at 35.6% and 4%, respectively.
Influenza Prevention: The Health Minister, Dr. Popi Kanari, stressed the importance of influenza vaccination, especially for the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, given its significant impact during winter in Europe. Annual vaccine adaptation to match circulating viruses is vital.
[Information sourced from CNA]