The Republic of Cyprus’ eagerly awaited plan for the mass vaccination of its residents against the novel coronavirus was presented on Tuesday by the health minister and Dr Olga Kalakouta.
According to health minister Constantinos Ioannou, “we are ready today to present the plan for the long-awaited vaccination of the population, in the midst of a difficult period, during which the deterioration of epidemiological indices led to the tightening of measures. I want to once again express my gratitude for the high sense of responsibility shown by the vast majority of our society.”
“The messages coming from the scientific community are encouraging. After many months of painstaking efforts by the scientific community and the pharmaceutical industry, today, a year after the outbreak of the pandemic in China, we have arrived to the point where vaccines against the coronavirus disease are almost ready to be released to the market,” Ioannou added.
“Vaccinations are already a fact in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, which have been hit hard by the virus and suffered heavy losses in both human lives and their health systems. In a few weeks, EU countries will also add the vaccine against coronavirus to our arsenal, which will help us build immunity in our populations and return to normal living conditions.”
Ioannou highlighted the highly significant initiative of the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakiakides, “who has made the greatest contribution to the efforts of small countries, such as Cyprus, for the timely supply of vaccines. As a market with very little bargaining power, Cyprus has always faced difficulties in accessing innovative medicines. With the joint supply of vaccines, it was ensured that Cyprus will have the coronavirus vaccines at the same time as all the countries of the European Union, at the same cost as the rest of the EU countries.”
The vaccination plan: 38 vaccination centres
Presenting the health ministry’s vaccination plan, Dr Olga Kalakouta said contracts have been signed at the EU-level with six companies.
The first two batches of vaccines set to arrive on the island will require lower preservation temperatures, she said, in light of which two special freezers will be arriving on December 19.
Dr Kalakouta said 38 vaccination centres will be set up across Cyprus, adding that stocks and the delivery process of vaccines will be monitored by GPS.
The vaccination centres will operate from 8am to 6pm and by appointment only, which each centre will carry out a maximum of 350 vaccinations per day.
Large event halls and other large premises in all districts will be selected to set up vaccination centres, while health professionals will be vaccinated at their workplaces
Mobile vaccination units will also be set up to target facilities which host people who cannot go to the centres.
The vaccination process will be governed by an algorithm, which will cover three areas: beneficiaries, vaccination centres, and data management.
The beneficiaries’ portal will cater to the setting of an appointment at the vaccination centre of choice. The public will be reminded of their appointment by SMS. Each person will receive two doses of the vaccine.
The vaccination centres’ portal will show the scheduled appointment of each centre, confirmations of appointments and of the details of the beneficiary, other details regarding the vaccination, vaccination certificates, and will allow for the management of vaccine stocks and deliveries.
The data management portal will contain data regarding the progress of the vaccination program per centre and per district, but will also monitor the progress of vaccination per demographic groups and risk factor.
The algorithm will give priority to vulnerable groups, to staff and residents of nursing homes, and to health professionals working with coronavirus patients.
Then follow those over 75 years old, while those working at health centres will then be vaccinated. After these, all aged over 16 will be vaccinated.
Dr Kalakouta stressed that vaccination is not mandatory by law, but said an information campaign will be launched to tackle ignorance.