Updated flu shots are expected to arrive on the island by end of week, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and member of the national vaccination advisory committee Christos Petrou said on Monday.

Speaking on CyBC radio, Petrou said that there appears to be an uptick in requests for seasonal flu vaccinations, which he attributed to the public becoming sensitised to the general benefits of vaccination in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two additional vaccinations, one for herpes zoster, and the pneumococcal vaccine, are also available and being recommended to the public, particularly high-risk populations such as the elderly, those suffering from chronic diseases, the immunocompromised, carers and hospital employees who come in frequent close contact with these populations.

Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is caused by varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. Most people worldwide are infected with VZV which remains dormant after a person recovers from chickenpox, however, in a subgroup of people, particularly the immunocompromised, VZV can reactivate years later, causing shingles.

Pneumococcal disease is a name for any infection caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus. Pneumococcal infections can range from ear and sinus infections to pneumonia and bloodstream infections.

The shot is given free of charge to those in vulnerable groups and can be bought in pharmacies for others.

The flu vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine could be administered in tandem in different arms, however, Petrou said, it is recommended to allow about two weeks’ time between them, so that any adverse event could be correctly attributed and followed. The same is recommended for the Covid booster short and flu shot.

Asked about flu in schools, Petrou said that waves of the normal seasonal viruses have been observed in schools already and that, as always, personal hygiene, such as handwashing, should be taught and encouraged in pupils, in order to protect vulnerable populations.