China’s Sinovac is the most-used vaccine in Chile and will also become available to children age six and up. Chilean health authorities made the decision on Sept. 6. This is yet another new step in Chile’s already-successful vaccination campaign.
Experts from Chile’s Institute of Public Health’s (ISP) approved on Monday, Sept. 6, the use of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine for children age six and up. Over 85 percent of Chile’s adult population has already been inoculated against COVID-19, the majority with Sinovac, but adding children to the mix was investigated, debated, and ultimately approved to further strengthen the country’s resistance to the virus.
With this approval, Chile became the first country in Latin America to approve Sinovac for children. Health Minister Enrique Paris called the approval “great news for school-age children and those who were not included in previous vaccination campaigns.”
Some 8.5 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in Chile correspond to children under 15 years of age. Most of these infections were asymptomatic cases. However, in a new step to combat the virus in Chile, experts agree that vaccinating minors is a good idea as they can still transmit the virus and develop stronger symptoms when infected by more contagious variants.
ISP Director Heriberto García, who emphasized that the vaccination strategy for children is yet to be decided, defended the decision: “The data show that infections among children are increasing because they are the ones who are not vaccinated; within this age group there are children who had transplants, children who need the use of the vaccine, immunosuppressed children; and, therefore, it is very necessary to expand the age group.”
Other countries that have approved the use of Sinovac for children are Indonesia and China, while still others, among them the United States and Canada, have approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children age 12 and up. Whether the Pfizer vaccine will also be approved for children in Chile remains to be seen. Sinovac is the most used vaccine in Chile, with nearly 19.5 million doses distributed in Chile. In the country, one of the world leaders in vaccinations, over 13 million people have completed their vaccination and nearly two million people have already received a third booster shot.
As a result, active cases have been dropping significantly in recent weeks. On Tuesday, Sept. 7, for the first time in 17 months, less than 300 new cases were reported while the number of active cases is about to drop below 3,000. There are currently no municipalities in quarantine in the country and the still existing curfew is being rolled back in all regions.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.