While many high-income countries, including the United States and most members of the European Union, now offer Covid vaccines for children 12 and older, a handful of countries have now authorized the vaccine for children. younger. Meanwhile, serious vaccine inequalities persist globally, with many developing countries continuing to struggle to provide first and second doses to high-risk groups – the very idea of getting children vaccinated remains a pipe dream.
Here is a general overview of the situation.
Throughout the pandemic, most in-person classes have been suspended in Cuba. Instead, students mainly learned through educational television programs, as the home internet remains a rarity on the island.
Cuba has yet to provide data on its vaccines to outside observers, but said it would seek approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday.
Meanwhile, American children between the ages of 5 and 11 may be eligible for the vaccine this fall, pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The CEO of Pfizer said on Tuesday that the company plans to submit data on its vaccine from studies involving this age group by the end of this month.
Where governments are still thinking about what to do about young children
The UK has been more cautious than many other European countries when it comes to vaccinating younger populations, only recommending the vaccine for 12-15 year olds on Monday, following advice from its chief medical officers. The move ended months of debate between scientists and government, and puts it in the tradition of the United States and many other European countries that have been vaccinating this age group for months.
At the end of May, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, based on a trial which showed that the immune response to the vaccine in this age group was comparable to the observed immune response. among 16-25 year olds. The EMA approved the Moderna vaccine for 12-15 year olds at the end of July.
France, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Poland are among the EU countries that have rolled out their vaccination campaigns for 12-15 year olds, with varying use across the block.
Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, has been vaccinating the youngest since June. Sweden will offer the vaccine to 12-15 year olds later in the fall, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, in the UK there are currently no plans to vaccinate children under 12, according to Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer.
The UK’s current guidelines for 12-15 year olds have been put forward in the hope that they will reduce the spread of the virus in schools, Whitty said. He noted, however, that vaccinations are not a quick fix and that policies to minimize transmission should remain in place. Adolescents will only receive one dose of the vaccine at this time.
The new directive has also reignited a debate over consent in the UK, especially when a parent and child disagree. While UK parents are generally required to allow vaccination of children under 16, children can bypass parents reluctant to get vaccinated if a clinician considers them “competent” to do so.
Where to vaccinate under 12s is not an option because there are not enough doses
Haiti did not receive its first vaccines until July, with the delivery of 500,000 doses donated by the United States as part of the COVAX vaccine sharing program. Less than 1% of the country’s 11.4 million people – nearly a third of whom are under the age of 14 – have been vaccinated so far.
In May, when some high-income countries started immunizing children and other low-risk groups, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said they were “doing it at the expense of health workers and high-risk groups in other countries “.
Where immunizations for children might be more difficult to roll out
While no country appears to have categorically ruled out immunization of young children so far, reluctance from policy makers may play a role in countries seemingly uncertain about doing so.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just over 120,000 doses have been administered, leaving less than 0.1% of the country’s population of 90 million people protected. Last week, the country received 250,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, donated by the United States via COVAX. Another 250,000 doses of Pfizer will follow shortly.
In March, more than 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca arrived in Kinshasa, but the government delayed its deployment after reports of rare blood clots, then exported around 75% of the cargo.
Monday, after six months of waiting, the President of the DRC Félix Tshisekedi was vaccinated, declaring after his first dose of the Moderna vaccine that “by this act I want to show my compatriots that it is really necessary to be vaccinated and that it is not necessary to worry. “He added that his wife had also taken the vaccine, then urged others to do so,” because it saves lives. “
The change in message could leave public health officials hoping to receive more gunfire in the months to come. But how that will play out in terms of childhood immunizations remains unclear in a country where vaccine misinformation is rampant and where earlier this year around 70% of health workers said they would not get the vaccine.
CNN’s Patrick Oppmann, Larry Madowo, Jack Guy and Niamh Kennedy contributed to this report.