Havana [Cuba], September 20 (ANI): Cuba has become the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of kids as young as age 2 against COVID-19 with its homegrown vaccines.
While the coronavirus vaccines aren't mandatory, parents and children have been filling clinics, hospitals and even converted schools to get the shot for their kids, reported CNN.
"I am relieved," Laura Tijeras said just minutes after her 4-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 policlinico in Havana, where CNN and other media were invited to film the vaccinations, more than 230 children ages 3 to 5 were vaccinated, the clinic's administrator said.
To put kids 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, reported CNN.
"It's alarming the numbers of infections of the new coronavirus that have occurred in Cuba in the last few months in the pediatric population," wrote Cuban Health Minister Jose Portal Miranda in an article on the government Cubadebate website in September.
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, reported CNN.
In September officials said they would begin vaccinating children as part of a plan to have more than 90 per cent of the island immunized and reopen international borders by mid-November. Officials said it is unlikely that they could restart schools before then.
"It's not a condition in order to attend our educational institutions when classes renew to be vaccinated," said Vice Minister of Education Eugenio Gonzalez Perez on the Mesa Redonda TV program.
Cuba's drug regulator so far has given approval for emergency usage of three home-grown vaccines that Cuban scientists say are highly effective at preventing serious illness and death as a result of the coronavirus.
While critics have complained of the Cuban government's excessive secrecy concerning their program, last week Cuban scientists said they had begun to share data with the World Health Organization to receive approval for their vaccines, reported CNN. (ANI)