Cuba vaccinates children as young as two as strategy to reopen schools, economySunday, September 19, 2021
HAVANA, Cuba — In September, Cuba became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of children as young as age two against COVID-19.
While the coronavirus vaccines are not mandatory, parents and children have been filling clinics, hospitals and even converted schools so children can receive one of Cuba's home-grown COVID vaccines, CNN said in a report.
"I am relieved," Laura Tijeras said just minutes after her four-year-old daughter Anisol got the first dose of Cuba's home-grown Soberana, or Sovereign, vaccine. "A lot of people are still getting sick and with the vaccine. We are more protected."
During a single day at a policlínico in Havana, according to CNN, more than 230 children ages three to five were vaccinated, the clinic's administrator said.
To put children at ease, doctors and nurses wore Mickey Mouse ears above their uniforms and brought in a clown with a speaker system to perform for them at full volume.
Like adults receiving vaccinations, children in Cuba will require three shots before they are considered fully vaccinated.
With the arrival of the Delta variant in Cuba, cases among children have skyrocketed.
"It's alarming the numbers of infections of the new coronavirus that have occurred in Cuba in the last few months in the paediatric population," wrote Cuban Health Minister Jose Portal Miranda in an article on the government Cuba debate website in September.
"Many of the paediatric patients reported in serious or critical condition are new-borns," he wrote.
So far during the pandemic at least 117,500 minors have been diagnosed with COVID in Cuba, according to official statistics. The government has not said how many children have died in Cuba during the pandemic. But since the beginning of August, 10 minors, children and infants have been listed as having died in daily press briefings given by the Health Ministry.
The spike in cases led Cuban officials to scrap plans to reopen schools in early September. As home internet access remains an expensive luxury for most Cubans, children receive their lessons by watching an educational channel on TV. Many Cuban parents complain that their children are being left behind in school, and with parks, movie theatres and beaches closed, there is nowhere to take them.
In September officials said they would begin vaccinating children as part of a plan to have more than 90 per cent of the island immunised and reopen international borders by mid-November. Officials said it is unlikely that they could restart schools before then, the CNN report said.