Demand for Covid-19 vaccines for children 5 to 11 was higher than expected, the health ministry said on Thursday amid complaints from parents trying to book appointments for their children.
Vaccination against Covid for children gets underway on Friday, with appointments currently available by phone but moving exclusively to the vaccination portal as from Tuesday, the ministry said as it made available online the consent form that must be signed by parents or guardians.
Local media reported that health centres have received an unprecedented amount of calls for appointments, resulting in many parents being unable to reach the centres or being put on hold for long periods.
For example, Latsia health centre, the designated vaccination centre for Nicosia, has reported receiving hundreds of calls for bookings when it only has the capacity to vaccinate 45 children per day.
At the same time, there have been complaints from civil servants about the operating hours for these vaccinations as they only run on Mondays and Tuesdays until 2pm, which is inconvenient for their schedules.
Health ministry spokesman Konstantinos Athanasiou said that the ministry is working on expanding staff numbers and hours to better serve the public.
Initial thoughts to make vaccines available through paediatricians were shelved for practical reasons, president of the paediatricians’ association Michalis Anastasiades told CyBC, citing the sensitivity of the vaccine and the need to avoid crowding at doctors’ offices during an already busy time because of other seasonal infections.
In an announcement, the health ministry said that jabs will be administered at its maternity and child welfare centres in all the districts which have been adapted only for children so as to facilitate access. Appointments can be made by phone, but as from 9.00 am on Tuesday, these will only be available through the vaccination portal.
The centres are: Nicosia – Latsia health centre, Monday and Tuesday 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, telephone 22849150 and 22467496; Limassol: old hospital, Monday and Friday, 8.00 am to 2.00 pm telephone 25829031 and Kyperounta vaccination centre, Monday 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm, telephone 25813200; Larnaca old Larnaca hospital, Wednesday and Friday, 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, telephone 24818047; Paphos – Paphos Hospital Wednesday and Friday, 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, telephone 26803246 and Polis Chrysochous maternity centre, Tuesday and Friday 9.00 am to 2.00 pm, telephone 26803246 and Famagusta – Famagusta Hospital, Wednesday and Friday, 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, telephone 23200063.
This age group will be administered a smaller dose (10mg compared to 30 mg administered to those over 12), the ministry said adding that studies indicate that the vaccine is 90.7 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid.
Side effects are similar to those over 12 and are usually mild or moderate and improve within a few days of vaccination, it added.
Parents or guardians must also sign a consent form. Download form here