Wire Service
2 minute read
5 Sep 2021
3:00 am

Cuba starts vaccinating children in order to re-open schools amid Covid surge


Schools have mostly been closed in Cuba since March 2020, and students have been following lessons on television.

Workers and teachers of the Saul Delgado pre-university institute wait to be vaccinated in Havana's El Vedado neighborhood on September 3, 2021. - Cuba on Friday launched a nationwide coronavirus vaccination campaign for children and adolescents aged two to 18, a condition set by the communist government before reopening schools. (Photo by Katell ABIVEN / AFP)

Cuban authorities on Friday launched a national campaign to vaccinate children aged two to 18 against Covid-19, a prerequisite set by the Communist government for schools to reopen amid a spike in infections.

Covid-19 surge in Cuba

Schools closed

Children aged 12 and older will be the first to receive one of the two domestically produced vaccines, Abdala and Soberana, followed by younger kids.

Schools have mostly been closed in Cuba since March 2020, and students have been following lessons on television.

With the school year starting Monday, they will continue learning remotely until all eligible children are vaccinated. 

Vaccinating children

Laura Lantigua, 17, got the first of three injections at Saul Delgado high school in the Cuban capital Havana. 

“I always wanted to be vaccinated,” Lantigua told AFP. She said that doctors measured her blood pressure and temperature before giving her the shot, then told her to wait for an hour to ensure she didn’t have any side effects. 

“I felt normal, fine,” Lantigua said.

Late Friday, the Medicines Regulatory Agency (Cecmed) announced that it authorized the emergency use of the Soberana 2 vaccine for minors between the ages of two and 18.

Cuban vaccines not recognised by WHO

The composition of Cuban vaccines, which are not recognised by the World Health Organization, is based on a recombinant protein, the same technique used by the US company Novavax.

With the Delta variant spreading across the island of 11.2 million, the country’s health care system has been pushed to the brink.

Of the 5,300 novel coronavirus deaths recorded since the outbreak started, nearly half were in August, as were almost a third of all reported cases.

The government said it plans to gradually re-open schools for in-person instruction in October after the vaccination campaign among children is completed.