Cuba, which uses its homegrown vaccines, is one of the first nations to begin vaccinating very young children.
Sitting on her mother’s lap, Lucia, age two, gazed at the illustrations in her book while, around her, several children stared in amazement at the doctors in white coats and the nurses with thermometers.
In an adjoining room, Danielito, also two, sobbed as he was shot while a clown tried to distract him.
Cuba began this Thursday a massive vaccination campaign for children between two and ten years old, becoming one of the first nations to do so. The country’s health officials say Cuba’s homegrown vaccines are safe for young children.
“Our country would not [infants] even with minimal risk if the vaccines were not shown to be safe and highly effective when administered to children, ”Aurolis Otano, director of the Vedado Polyclinic University, told The Associated Press news agency in a vaccination room.
Otano said that the circulation of the Delta variant caused an increase in infections among the youngest, so the Cuban scientific community decided “to take the vaccine to a clinical trial” and it was approved for children.
The polyclinic hopes to vaccinate about 300 children between the ages of two and five. Those between the ages of five and ten are getting their first chance at their schools.
Lucía’s mother, Denisse González, watched the children in the vaccination room while she waited for the time when her daughter should be under observation after being vaccinated.
“I had a lot of doubts and I was worried at first, really, but I informed myself,” she said.
“The health of our children comes first and foremost, which is the main and [contagion] it’s 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 the ages of 11 and 18 began. The plan includes two doses of the Soberana 02 vaccine and one of Soberana Plus, as was done with adults.
Children also face ‘significant risks’
Cuba faces a persistent COVID-19 outbreak that nearly collapses its health 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 Sovereigns, Cuba has developed another national vaccine, Abdala. According to the Cuban Ministry of Health, there have been 776,125 positive cases of COVID-19 with 6,601 deaths.
In June, Chinese regulators approved the use of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines for children ages three to 17. The United States and many European countries currently allow the COVID-19 vaccine for children over the age of 12.
Children have largely escaped the worst of the pandemic and show less severe symptoms when they contract the virus. But experts say that children can pass the virus to other people and suffer negative consequences.
“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 Organization. Panamericana de la Salud.
“We must be clear: children and young people also face significant risks.”