Covid-19 vaccination: Cuba is the first country to vaccinate its children– as young as two years old. As a matter of fact, the country will be inoculating children with its home-grown vaccines–the one which have yet not been authorised by WHO (World Health Organisation). It will be inoculating its children and adolescents aged 2-18 against covid-19. Cuba’s Medicines Regulatory Agency (Cecmed) earlier this month announced that the country is going ahead with the emergency use of the home produced vaccine Soberna 2 for minors and adolescents between 2 to 18.
While other countries were scrambling for vaccines from other countries, Cuba was focussed on making its own vaccine. This happened even though the country was grappling with severe food and medicine shortages. The local scientists say that the vaccine is safe for use because there is very little data available in the public domain to understand its efficacy.
Countries across the world are more cautious when it comes to vaccinating its children. The vaccines have been rolled out in a phased manner to minimise any kind of risk that could be associated with vaccinating children. Cuba has faced criticism in that regard by some health experts who feel it was too soon to vaccinate most of its population including children.
Why this hurry?
The Cuban government revealed that in order to reopen schools for children, the country has speed up the vaccination process. The Voice of America has reported that the Cuban government is planning to reopen schools in October after a vaccination drive among children is completed. The schools in the country are running virtually and children have been directed to watch educational programmes on TV. The internet remains out of reach for many in the country. Initially, the Cuban government went with inoculating frontline workers and elderlies who were living in badly affected areas. It is after the sudden covid spike seen in children when the government’s focus shifted to vaccinating the younger population.
Other countries vaccinating children
Currently, there is no other country that is vaccinating two year old children. But some have started vaccinating children who are slightly older and are adolescents. The UAE, China and Chile are the countries that have authorised vaccines for younger children.
The United States along with several European nations– France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Poland, have already rolled out their vaccination drive for young adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15. The UK is however more cautious right now. Shots for 12-15 year olds came only recently after approval came from the country’s top medical experts.
Why such criticism?
While there is no problem vaccinating children, the criticism for vaccinating children comes following the fact that there are still billions, particularly in low-income countries, that have not even gotten their first dose of vaccine. The focus, right now, should be on vaccination, high risk groups and health workers. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, when some countries started vaccinating their children, that they have been doing it at the expense of health workers and other high risk groups in other countries.