The director general of the Ministry of Health, Christina Yannaki, has introduced a new vaccination program for Cypriot adults against various diseases. All vaccinations are free of charge within the framework of GESI. She also announced that since November 22, the next phase of vaccination against coronavirus has started in Cyprus – it is now possible to vaccinate infants as well.
The Vaccination Committee, which Yannaki heads, was established in 2018. One of the tasks of this body is to develop a plan of recommended vaccinations for adult Cypriot residents, children and adolescents. It is created based on the latest scientific evidence and WHO recommendations.
In 2019, the committee began updating the program to include immunization schemes for children and adolescents, new immunization algorithms for adults and vulnerable populations. The mandatory vaccination schedule for children and adolescents was eventually updated in late 2019 and early 2020. Varicella, hepatitis A, meningitis and HPV vaccines were added to the list. The flu shot was added in 2020.
90% of adolescents are vaccinated against HPV
Before GESI was introduced, only 60 percent of children and adolescents were vaccinated at public hospitals, while doctors at private hospitals vaccinated about 40 percent, Yannaki said. Today, the state spends about 7.5 million euros to vaccinate them. Those who are registered with GESI are vaccinated by their pediatricians, the rest are vaccinated at maternity and child care centers. In 2021, 90% of adolescents were vaccinated against HPV, 80% against hepatitis A, and 70% against chickenpox.
Seven new items in the program
Then came the turn of the vaccination plan for adults. Before it was approved, only the following vaccines were free: tetanus and diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, and influenza. In the fall of 2021, the committee recommended that seven new vaccines be included in the mandatory vaccination plan: varicella and herpes zoster, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and PPSV23 polysaccharide vaccine, hepatitis A, quadrivalent conjugate meningococcal vaccine, group B meningococcal vaccine (MenB-4C or MenB-fHBP), type B hemophilus infection and human papillomavirus vaccine.
Vaccinations are the responsibility of doctors
Before the introduction of the GESI system, vaccines were available at vaccination centers. Now personal doctors are responsible for vaccinations. The budget for the adult vaccination program is 10 million euros. This is 7.5 times more than before the new vaccination plan was implemented.
“I would like to emphasize that vaccination is the foundation of the primary health care system and an undeniable human right. It is one of the state’s most cost-effective investments in health care, aimed at promoting social solidarity, equal access and efficient use of resources,” summarized Hristina Jannaki.
Where to vaccinate children
Regarding vaccination against COVID-19, Jannacki noted: 86.1% of people over 18 years old have been vaccinated. 73.3% received booster doses.
Starting November 22, in Cyprus, vaccination against coronavirus began for infants over 6 months old and children under 4 years old. The vaccine is administered with a product from Pfizer.