“It gives me peace of mind”: Puerto Rico begins vaccination against COVID-19 in children under five


Despite the fact that she has taken all possible measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among her two young daughters, one four and one six years old, Natalia Robles Bartolomewic She has become uncomfortable thinking that she or her husband may be infecting little girls or girls at the school they attend or family outings. Both she and her husband are vaccinated, even with a booster dose, but the little ones had not yet been vaccinated. The eldest was vaccinated between November and December last year and will get a booster dose in the next few days. Meanwhile, the youngest got his first dose this Thursday.

“It gives me peace of mind. I found out from a mom at the (girls’) school and I called early to meet. Safety measures always help, but I find peace in knowing that in August they already go to school with the vaccine,” he said of a vaccination clinic today at the Pediatric Hospital for children under six months old. for four years.

Following the federal government’s recent authorization to vaccinate minors of these ages, this week the product began to be administered to this population, which includes about 106,000 minors between six months and four years old in Puerto Rico. Health Secretary, Dr. Carlos Meladowith the agency’s chief medical officer, Dr. Iris CardonaChief Epidemiological Officer, Dr. Melissa Marzana and director of the vaccination program, Doctor Angel Rivera, arrived at the Pediatric Hospital this afternoon to oversee the course of the clinic and answer questions from parents and the media. Reportedly 50 vaccines were available, but by 3:00 pm only 18 had been administered.

“Some providers will start vaccinating (this population) tomorrow, Wednesday, others today or tomorrow, and others on Monday, depending on the facility and the number of children,” Cardona said.

As indicated, more than 70% of hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant in pediatric patients are in children under five years of age.

“The impact of COVID on children has been observed. This was the group that needed to increase protection (by vaccination),” he said.

As reported, there are two vaccines available to vaccinate children aged six months to four years, one from the company Pfizer (which requires three doses) and the other from Moderna (which involves two doses). 500 doses of Pfizer have already arrived in Puerto Rico and it is expected that some 5,000 more will arrive today. Meanwhile, 5,500 doses arrived from Moderna yesterday and will be distributed today. That said, the expectation is that around 11,000 vaccines from both companies will arrive next week and more will come weekly.

In clinical trials, he said, fewer side effects were seen from the vaccine than in adults. Fatigue, pain in the area of ​​administration of the vaccine (thigh or shoulder) and in some cases fever have been the most common, he indicated, noting that in infants you may notice irritability or crying more than usual, as well as a slight Sleepiness

“There were no serious events, such as death, myocarditis, or anaphylactic reactions, with more than 10,000 participants in the clinical studies,” he said.

Dr. Melado warned that, although the death rate from COVID-19 among minors has been very low, there are more hospitalizations in the region. He also emphasized that protection from the effects of persistent COVID or “Long COVID” is imperative.

“The sermon is that every mother (or father) who has doubts, goes to the pediatricians and asks whether their son (or daughter) should be vaccinated against COVID or not. We are going to try to get this vaccine (administered) in pediatricians,” he said.

He said that although the symptoms of Omicron can be mild and resemble those of a cold, the greatest difficulty occurs in people over the age of 65 with comorbidities.

“COVID is here to stay. There will be many variations. The important thing is that the treatment is available completely free of cost,” Melado insisted.

Dr. Cardona pointed out that several days ago the country’s pediatricians were offered a training through the Puerto Rican Society of Pediatrics on this vaccination.

For his part, Dr Marzan indicated that, after the age of 30 to 49, the highest incidence of COVID-19 occurs in children between the ages of zero and four. These, he said, are contributing to community transmission, for which he emphasized the importance of vaccination in this population.

As noted, this vaccine is available in pharmacies (which can vaccinate children under three years of age and older), some 60 in 330 clinics (first aid groups), in hospital immunization centers and for vaccinations. It will be available in approximately 200 providers certified by Healthcare. ,

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