Thu, 16 Sep 2021
© (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A mother holds her daughter who is injected with a dose of the Soberana-02 COVID-19 vaccine, in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. Cuba began inoculating children as young as 2-years-old with locally developed vaccines on Thursday.
Sitting on her mother's lap, 2-year-old Lucía looked at the illustrations in her book while around her several children watched the doctors in white coats and nurses with thermometers in amazement. In an adjoining room, Danielito, also 2, sniffled while getting a shot as a clown tried to distract him.
Cuba on Thursday began a massive vaccination campaign for children between the ages of 2 and 10, becoming one of the first nations to do so. Health officials here say Cuba's homegrown vaccines have been found safe to give to young children.
"Our country would not put (infants) even at a minimal risk if the vaccines were not proven save and highly effective when put into children," Aurolis Otaño, director of the Vedado Polyclinic University, told The Associated Press in a vaccination room.
Otaño said the circulation of the Delta variant produced an increase in infections among the youngest, so Cuba's scientific community decided to "take the vaccine to clinical trial" and it was approved for children.
Comment: It may have "produced infections" but what was the severity of said infections? Did they require hospitalization and medical intervention? Did the children have comorbidities?
The Polyclinic expects to vaccinate about 300 children between 2 and 5. Those between 5 and 10 are receiving their first shot at their schools.
Lucía's mother, Denisse González, watched the children in the vaccination room while waiting the hour that her daughter had to be under observation after being vaccinated.
"I was very doubtful and worried at first, really, but I informed myself," she said.
"Our children's health is first and foremost, which is the main thing and (contagion) is a risk because young children are always playing on the floor," added González, a 36-year-old engineer.
In previous weeks, the vaccination of Cubans between 11 and 18 began. The plan includes two doses of Soberana 02 vaccine and one of Soberana Plus, as was done with adults.
Comment: Reuters reported just over two weeks ago that Cuban vaccines had a reported efficacy of 90% and had been approved by local regulators despite not publishing any of their data in peer-reviewed journals.
© AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa
A nurse greets a young girl as she arrives with her mother to receive a dose of the Soberana-02 COVID-19 vaccine, in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.
Cuba began inoculating children as young as 2-years-old with locally developed vaccines on Thursday.Cuba faces a persistent COVID-19 outbreak that almost collapsed its health-care system. Provinces such as Matanzas, Ciego de Ávila and Cienfuegos received support from doctors from other parts of the country and even from international donors.
In addition to the Soberanas, Cuba has developed another national vaccine, Abdala. According to Cuba's Ministry of Health, 776,125 positive cases of COVID-19 have been registered with 6,601 deaths.
In June, Chinese regulators approved the use of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines for children ages 3 to 17. The United States and many European countries currently allow COVID-19 vaccinations for children 12 and older.
Children have largely escaped the worst of the pandemic and show less severe symptoms when they contract the virus. But experts say children can pass the virus on to others and suffer negative consequences.
Comment: See also: Study: Children play little role in spreading coronavirus
"As more adults receive their COVID-19 vaccines, children, who are not yet eligible for vaccines in most countries, account for a higher percentage of hospitalizations and even deaths," said Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization. "We must be clear: children and young people also face significant risks."
Comment: What significant risks do children and young people face? They are overwhelmingly likely to survive if they contract coronavirus and just as unlikely to develop severe symptoms. It is reprehensible to jab them with an experimental shot when the potential risks far outweigh any supposed benefits.
Cambodia has also started vaccinating children aged 6-12:
Almost a month after Cambodia started vaccinating teenagers against coronavirus, the government has also initiated vaccine campaign for six to 12-year-olds.
The decision was taken even after the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to prioritise vaccinating vulnerable population in poor countries, instead of first vaccinating children.
This has come a few weeks after Cambodia's government also launched a booster programme for some selected citizens. Nearly 500,000 to one million frontline workers and their family members in seven provinces bordering Thailand were first ones to receive the booster shot in the country.
Cambodian Prime Minister had earlier, too, stressed on the importance of vaccinating teenagers and children. The leader urged parents to get their children and grandchildren vaccinated as soon as possible to keep them safe from the deadly virus.
"The vaccination for children today is a key step to herd immunity in communities," said the Cambodian leader. "Children are like bamboo shoots. If the health of children is damaged now, we won't have good bamboos."
In addition to Cambodia, Denmark, France and Lithuania have also started vaccinating teenagers. Meanwhile, Israel has offered booster shots to all eligible citizens.
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