Health authorities said Friday they planned to launch vaccinations of children between five and 11 next week, as Covid-19 infections in the particular age group recorded an increase in recent weeks.
Health ministry permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki said the first jabs were expected on Monday and all arrangements have been put in place to start the vaccinations on Thursday or next Monday week.
The vaccines will be administered at maternity protection and child welfare centres across the Republic after appointment.
The Pfizer vaccines for children have a different dosage than those administered to people aged 12 and above – 10 microgrammes instead of 30 microgrammes.
A study showed they are 90.7 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19, Yiannaki said.
The child vaccines have showed similar side effects with their adult versions and are usually mild or moderate and improve within days.
Yiannaki said a surge in vaccinations has been observed in recent days but on the other hand, latest figures also show a rise in infections among children.
Around 30 per cent of total infections in recent weeks concern children aged zero to 18.
“I emphasise, between October 4, 2021 and December 5, 2021, the number of infections has risen in all age groups, especially the five to 11, where they rose ninefold,” Yiannaki said.
In the past four weeks, the five to 11 age group had the most infections when compared with the zero to five and 12 to 18s.
Yiannaki said increasing the vaccination rates was a key parameter in tackling the pandemic.
By Wednesday, the adult vaccination rate with at least one dose was 85.2 per cent while those who had two jabs reached 81.5 per cent. Just over 66 per cent of eligible people have also had their booster shot.
As regards the 16 to 17 group, 49.2 per cent have had at least one shot while 42.8 per cent had two.
Among teenagers between 12 and 15, 37.4 per cent had at least one dose and 29.6 per cent got two.
The highest increase in vaccinations was among the 12 to 15 and 16 to 17 groups with 5.8 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.