The Swedes have rejected it, Dr Fauci says the US may soon approve it, the Chinese have started, but the Cubans have already vaccinated almost all young children against Covid.
(U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases).- The island is the only country vaccinating toddlers as young as two against the disease, and more than 95% of two- to 18-year-olds have now been fully vaccinated, according to the ministry of public health.
“Although Covid hits children less severely, they are an important factor in transmission,” said Dr Gerardo Guillén, the lead developer of Abdala, one of the island’s homegrown vaccines.
Child vaccination, one of the world’s highest Covid vaccination rates and high herd immunity after a massive Delta peak last summer, he said, have contributed to significantly lower infection rates in Cuba than in the US and Europe throughout the Omicron wave.
With confidence in the community-based health service high – and with a one-party state preventing anti-vax movements from taking root as they have elsewhere in Latin America – Cubans by and large trust their country’s vaccines. Inoculating young children is widely seen as common sense.
“Children are vaccinated as soon as they are born,” said Ania Ramírez, 33, collecting her fully vaccinated son, Fabio, age five, from school. “If he’s already got all the other vaccines, why wouldn’t I put this in him?”
Around the world, Covid vaccination ages are getting lower: the World Health Organization has recommended that if high levels of coverage have already been achieved in the adult population, countries should consider inoculating children as young as five with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Chile and the United Arab Emirates are now vaccinating three-year-olds.
But some countries are bucking the trend: the Swedish health agency last week decided against recommending Covid vaccines to children younger than 11, arguing there were no “clear benefits”.