Hundreds of non-Gesy beneficiaries braved the heat to wait in line at walk-in vaccination centres on Friday as Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas urged members of the public who have yet not received the jab to follow their example and get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
His call came as the health ministry announced 70 per cent of the adult population was now fully vaccinated against Covid.
Hadjipantelas was speaking to the media during a visit to the walk-in centre for non-Gesy users at the state fair, where – as was the case last week – there were long queues of mostly third-country nationals with one individual, according to the minister, having turned up from 2am.
“As you can see from the people, the response is very big. This gives a message to those of our compatriots who have not taken advantage of this gift of vaccination that we have,” he said.
“Some of these people, one specific person was in line from 2am because he wants to get vaccinated and get his life back. It is a message that some other of our compatriots should also heed who have this gift, but it appears they cannot appreciate it at this given moment,” he said.
And he refuted the argument that all could not be well for people to wait in the sun for two hours. “There is definitely nothing wrong, certainly this incredible response from the people shows that everything is right,” he said.
Nor was there enough nursing staff to operate an additional vaccination centre.
“Our nursing staff are giving a number of battles and we do not have nurses available for an additional vaccination centre. We have an enormous need for nurses at our hospitals, so we cannot have a second vaccination centre, but it is something we are looking at and next time we will try to organise it even better,” he said.
The minister also had a warning about the health system’s capacity. Asked how concerning was the situation in the ICUs, he said that although there are available beds, these are not limitless, and the message should particularly go to those who have not been vaccinated who are the majority of those in intensive care.
Moreover, ICU beds were needed for other emergency cases. “Therefore, there is one way not to run out of intensive care beds, for people to be vaccinated so that they don’t end up in the ICU.”
Asked about the universities, he said a decision on the protocols to be required would be taken by cabinet at its August 23 meeting. Universities have asked to operate with a physical presence of students, with classes to be up to 80 per cent full. Hadjipantelas said that for 80 per cent physical presence, a jab would be needed.
“We gave the option for students who are not vaccinated to have a PCR test. We say PCR rather that rapid test because it is a more reliable way.”
When told that the cost of some €300 to €350 a month would be prohibitive, he countered that there are walk-in centres with free vaccines.
The ministry was also examining walk-in vaccination centres at secondary schools.
Ministry permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki who accompanied the minister to the centre said that Cyprus has administered 1.915m jabs – 69.9 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated and 76.3 per cent first dose.