Cuba: The country begins vaccinating teenagers against COVID-19 and younger children this week as part of an effort to immunize more than 90% of the population by December, media reported on Wednesday.
All children between the ages of 2 and 18 will receive at least two doses of the Cuban-developed Soberana-2 vaccine from September 3.
Health Ministry official Ileana Morales Suarez said the campaign would look like annual vaccinations against various childhood diseases, taking place at thousands of family medical practices and clinics.
According to trials of the vaccine on minors, it is safe and that it elicits a more robust immune response than in adults, according to the state’s manufacturer, Finlay Institute.
The decision was announced at a weekly meeting of leaders and scientists to confront the communist-run pandemic on the Caribbean island, which is currently experiencing a boom in a Delta variant that has put its health care system under pressure and the younger population hit much harder than previous versions of the virus.
In the past week, Cuba averaged between 6,500 and 7,000 cases per day and 70 to 80 deaths, significantly lower than a few weeks ago, but still one of the highest rates in the world in terms of cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
The vaccination of the adult population, mainly with the help of another locally developed shot, Abdala, will be intensified with the aim of ensuring that all suitable adults have at least started the three-shot treatment by the end of the month. .
Cubans are desperate to get their children back after months of homeschooling, a prospect postponed again in September.
The country has a shortage of everything from food and medicine to spare parts and inputs for power plants and agriculture, due to the closure of the tourism industry, severe US sanctions and its own inefficiency.
It desperately wants to tame the disease in time for the tourism season that begins in November.
Both Cuban vaccines, with reported efficacy of more than 90%, have been approved for emergency use by local regulators, although the data have not yet been published in peer-reviewed journals.
In the capital, Havana, where more than 60% of the 2.2 million inhabitants are fully vaccinated, cases and deaths per 100,000 inhabitants are much lower than the national average, according to government statistics.
Currently, about 50% of Cuba’s 11.3 million people have received at least one dose of vaccine, with more than 3.5 million fully vaccinated.