One out every four Uruguayan children scheduled for the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine has missed their appointments over the past three days, leaving a sizable number of Pfizer units on the brink of expiration, it was reported Monday in Montevideo.
During the first month of 2022, Uruguay purchased 258,000 doses of Pfizer’s pediatric drug. A large number of infections -with over 10,000 new daily cases- prompted strong demand for the chemical when vaccination for kids aged 5 to 11 started.
Children given their first shot in January were beginning to become eligible for their second dose in the second half of February. But during the first three days of the sixth week after the first injection, 25% of them have missed their appointment, it was reported.
According to Uruguay’s Health Ministry, it is likely that these children have caught COVID-19 at some point. When a child becomes infected, he has to wait three months to receive the second shot, experts have explained.
As the severity of SARS-CoV-2 begins to wane down, vaccination appointments are also decreasing. If the new trend persists, Uruguay will have a surplus of 258,000 doses of vaccine.
If all children due for their second dose by March 31 were vaccinated, those who took their first injection through February 17 would mean 287,216 doses will have been administered before they expire.
Uruguay’s Health Undersecretary José Luis Satdjian hopes those who have not yet taken a dose of vaccine can be persuaded in time. “There is a long way to go before the expiration date,” he stressed. He added no additional efforts such as house-by-house vaccination raids were being planned, unlike health authorities did in the case of adults.
At worst, these doses will be donated, Satdjian explained. Uruguay has already handed over unused AstraZeneca vaccines to other countries in need. Returning them to Pfizer is out of the question, he added.
According to medical standards, children who have been infected have a level of immunity equal to that of those fully vaccinated.
Uruguay is already vaccinating people over 50 years of age and those with comorbidities with the fourth dose of Pfizer’s drug.
Health Minister Daniel Salinas has announced the country would move on to ”greater activity in all fields” and fewer restrictions.
Satdjian also explained teenagers aged 12 to 17 will be eligible for a third dose, provided they have received their second injection at least 120 days ago.