Chile's health authorities have started vaccinating children aged between 6 and 12 against COVID-19 with the Chinese Coronavac drug to keep up the country's high immunization rate, which is among the most prolific worldwide.
First to receive the immunizer this week will be children with specific comorbidities, while from September 26 all children will be eligible for the shot.
Children can also get sick. Twelve percent of the cases that we have had in our country during this year and a half are children under 18 years old, said Health Undersecretary Paula Daza.
Chile's Institute of Public Health (ISP) had authorized last Monday the use of the Sinovac laboratory drug on children over 6 years, thus making Chile the first country in South America to give the green light to inoculation for this age group.
The country had already approved in June the use of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for children over 12 years of age, with around 700,000 first doses having already been applied.
Today we do not have vaccines for children under 6 years of age, but if we vaccinate the whole family we are going to act in a cocoon way, protecting the little ones, said Daza, who insisted vaccines were safe, effective and, in addition to protecting each person, they are an act of solidarity.
More than 13.2 of Chile's population of around 19 million have already completed their vaccination schedule, of which 2.2 million have received Coronavac, the brand most commonly used.
A study by the University of Chile showed last week showed that the Pfizer vaccine maintains the positivity of its IgG antibodies above 90% after 20 weeks of its application, while the Sinovac formula drops to around 40% in that time.
Chile has mandated the strictest of lockdowns and curfews followed by full scale vaccination. The positivity rate - the number of positive tests out of the total carried out - has been below 1% for weeks and there are currently only half a thousand patients admitted to intensive care, compared to almost 4,000 in the most critical months. Nevertheless, a curfew is still effective from midnight to 5am and the borders continue to be closed for tourists since last April.
Meanwhile, UK health authorities Monday issued a recommendation to vaccinate minors between the ages of 12 and 15 with the Pfizer / BioNTech covid-19 vaccine.
This recommendation takes into account the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the education of minors, as well as the risks to children's mental health in case they have to miss school due to being infected with the virus, it was explained.
Around three million children may now get the vaccine, despite the fact that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) has for now advised against mass vaccination for that age group, because COVID-19 presents a very low risk for healthy children and that immunization would offer only a marginal benefit.