The health ministry said on Tuesday it had ordered more flu vaccines than advised by the competent agency, while it was trying to secure more to meet demand.
In a written statement, the ministry said it wanted to set the record straight as regards statements in the media on flu vaccines, also referring to “disinformation.”
Responding to statements to state broadcaster CyBC by head of the Paediatric Society (PEC) Dr Michalis Anastasiades on vaccine shortages and the way flu vaccines are distributed, the ministry said the decision for how many are needed to cover the population are determined by the National Advisory Committee for Vaccinations, in which the Paediatric Society (PEC) participates.
It added that the committee recommended 80,000 vaccines be ordered as this was how many were used in 2019 but the ministry ordered 100,000 vaccines with provision for an additional 35,000 vaccines if needed in January 2020. “In short, if the recommendations of the Commission, which includes the PEC, were followed to the letter, we would only have 80,000 vaccines available instead of 135,000,” the ministry said.
Due to increased demand for the flu jab caused by the coronavirus pandemic the ministry said it ordered the additional 35,000 vaccines while “efforts are constantly being made to provide more vaccine doses to cover a larger part of the population.”
“However, as it should be understood, this is not possible due to the global shortage that is observed.”
Regarding the fact that the vaccines are received in instalments, it pointed out that no country in the world has received the entire quantity in one batch, precisely because of the shortages, but also the effort to ensure the gradual vaccination of the population in all countries.
On the complaint by Anastasiades that the vaccines are administered by the physicians (GPs) but not in the vaccination centres as was the case in the previous years, the ministry pointed out that this was due to the introduction of the national health scheme Gesy.
“The role of GPs is to know the clinical condition of its beneficiaries and through the interpersonal relationship that develops with them to be able to assess the need or not of immediate vaccination,” the ministry said.
Anastasiades had expressed concerns earlier in the day over the inability of competent authorities to provide vaccines for children but also that the quantity of flu vaccines ordered might not be enough to cover all vulnerable groups.
He pointed out that the health ministry this year has included children between six months and 15 years old in the list of vulnerable groups that need to get the flu vaccine.