The Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine reduces but does not eliminate the risk of coronavirus infection, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
In an announcement with instructions for the public concerning the AstraZeneca vaccine, the health ministry said it “reduces the risk of a person contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19)”.
However, some people may still get Covid-19 despite having been vaccinated, the ministry added, as “no vaccine is completely effective”.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is administrated in two doses, which “reduce the possibility of an individual becoming seriously ill or dying.”
While certain European countries, including Greece, Germany and France, have ruled the specific vaccine will not to be administrated to people over 65, Cyprus said it will be provided to all residents, despite their age.
On Tuesday, the union of pensioners (Ekysy) expressed concerns about the ministry’s decision and demanded official information regarding the Astra Zeneca vaccine.
Meanwhile, concerns have also been expressed by patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) who cannot receive the specific vaccine due to its ingredients.
“Cyprus follows the instructions of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and not of other countries. Since the EMA did not give an age limit, our [vaccination] plan continues as normal,” said the health ministry’s spokeswoman Margarita Kyriacou said.
The ministry also warned that it takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build up protection and people must maintain personal protection measures.
“Even after vaccination, the person must continue to apply the usual practices of personal hygiene and protection, such as frequent hand washing, keeping social distances and using a face mask,” the announcement noted.
For better protection against the virus, people must receive both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Hence, the ministry reminded the public to book their appointment for the second dose before leaving the vaccination centre.
Those who receive the first dose are given a Covid-19 vaccination card which they must present at the appointment for the second dose of the vaccine.
Concerning side effects, the ministry said the vaccine cannot cause Covid-19 infection, but some mild side effects might be expected which should be reported to the health ministry.
Most side effects are mild and short-term which include pain, swelling, erythema, a feeling of warmth or tenderness at the injection site, chills, tiredness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, as well as muscle or joint pain and fever.
“These symptoms normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call your personal doctor,” the ministry said.
Cyprus was to have 7,200 AstraZeneca doses ready to administer from Tuesday, not be subject to age restrictions. The AstraZeneca doses arrived on Monday.
So far 10,000 people have received their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines and a total of 33,000 vaccinations have taken place. Vaccinations of those in care homes has neared completion, with about 500 people left to receive their jabs.
By the end of February, the health ministry is expecting to have vaccinated all those aged over 75 and by the beginning of March all health workers will have been vaccinated.