As the vaccination portal opened for children aged 12 to 15 on Monday with 830 slots booked by noon, the Cyprus Paediatric Society has filed a complaint with police after members of the board received threats for recommending anti-Covid vaccination to minors.
Speaking on CyBC, the president of the paediatric society Michalis Anastasiades said that its members have received online insults and threats.
Spokesman Christos Andreou said the complaint was filed on Sunday through a law office and concerned online posts. Investigators are evaluating their content to determine whether criminal offences have been committed, he added.
Anastasiades said the incident has been reported to police cybercrime department, adding that police chief Stelios Papatheodorou is expected to inform Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas later on Monday.
He described the incident as “sad” but added that “it neither scares us not intimidates us”.
The incident was also condemned by President Nicos Anastasiades who tweeted that the insults are a “shame” for Cyprus and that the government stands by the paediatricians “against mediaeval perceptions”.
He added the island has one of the highest vaccination coverages among EU member states. “Science and the country’s scientists are our support,” he said.
The Cyprus Medical Association also condemned the threats levied against paediatricians and other doctors as unacceptable and castigated a flurry of insults on social media. It said it understood concerns by members of the public which should be addressed through dialogue and scientific facts but added there was no room for insults and threats against colleagues for doing their job.
The Cyprus Paediatric Society had recommended the immediate inclusion of 12 to 15-year-olds in the coronavirus vaccine programme, saying that 20 per cent of coronavirus cases in Cyprus concern children and that “the benefit of vaccinating this age group far outweighs any potential risks”.
On Monday, Anastasiades reiterated that the vaccine is “safe and effective” and would contribute to containing the coronavirus pandemic in the island.
He said however that he understands parents’ concerns, but the decision was taken after paediatricians “studied all the data responsibly” and called on parents and guardians to vaccinate their children.
Cabinet had announced the decision to expand vaccination to more minors last Friday, following the inclusion of 16 and 17-year-olds late in June.
A total of 830 appointments for children aged 12 to 15 were booked between the opening of the vaccination portal at 7.30am and 12 noon, the health ministry said later on Monday. The 830 slots taken were from a total of 1,385 vaccination appointments arranged in the morning.
Parents or legal guardians, as well as the personal doctors of the children, can arrange appointments for the minors through the portal.
The vaccines offered are the ones using mRNA technology, namely Pfizer or Moderna.
The health ministry said that vaccination of children is carried out only with a signed consent form of the parents or legal guardians.
So far, more than one fourth of teenagers aged 16 to 17 have received the jab according to recent data by the health ministry.