Rescheduling of appointments for the second dose of the AstraZeneca is underway, with 12,500 jabs already brought forward and another 25,000 due to be arranged in the next few days, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

Initially, the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were administered with a 12-week gap. In April, the government promised to reduce this to eight weeks to win over those, many with an eye on the summer holidays, keen to get their vaccination completed earlier. However, the first text messages with new dates only went out last Thursday.

Initially, the slow pace in reprogramming was attributed to logistical issues, but on Wednesday the ministry said it was primarily due to delayed shipments by the vaccine maker last week.

“Despite this, and according to the latest information, shipment was finalised at the end of the week, and according to the schedule for deliveries submitted by the government, the quantities to be sent in June are enough to administer the second dose of all those who have already been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine,” it said.

So far, 12,600 appointments have been rescheduled and 25,000 appointments covering up to June 23 are being rescheduled in the next few days.

The new dates are sent by text message, while at the vaccination centres of Polis Chrysochous and Troodos Hospital, rescheduling is underway and is being done by telephone.

The new appointments will be at the same vaccination centres as where recipients were administered their first jab.

The ministry stressed the importance of completing the vaccination so as offer effective protection and reiterated that benefits exceeded risks.

Cyprus’ improved epidemiological picture of recent weeks was to a large extent due to the vaccination roll-out with more than one in two of those eligible having received at least the first jab by May 25, it added.

Overall, 372,696 people have received the first dose (50.4 per cent of eligible population) and 175,219 (23.7 per cent) have completed their vaccination.

Achieving immunity and preventing the spread of variants is contingent on vaccinations continuing at the same intensive pace, the ministry concluded.