NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s entire cabinet was inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 on Thursday in an attempt to win over a cautious public on the safety of the shots.
Some countries have limited use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to certain age groups or have suspended the doses altogether after European Union and British regulators confirmed possible links to rare blood clots.
Eight ministers, two deputy ministers and three other senior officials received AstraZeneca shots at a vaccination centre in the capital Nicosia.
“We want to send a strong message that what is important is the vaccination, and not the vaccine itself,” said Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who received a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in January. Two other members of the cabinet had been inoculated previously based on their age.
Like some other EU countries, Cyprus temporarily halted AstraZeneca vaccinations in mid-March but resumed them shortly afterwards after the European Medicines Agency said the benefits of the shot far outweighed the risks.
However, there have been widespread reports of a slower take-up of the vaccine in favour of the other shots available, made by Pfizer and Moderna.
At the present rate, Cyprus can expect to have vaccinated 70% of its population by the end of June, therefore acquiring herd immunity, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said.
Cyprus has to date reported 53,254 cases of COVID-19 and 277 deaths.
(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Gareth Jones)