Cuban authorities on Friday launched a national campaign to vaccinate children aged two to 18 against Covid-19, a condition set by the Communist government in order to reopen schools for in-person instruction amid a spike in infections.
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.
Laura Lantigua, 17, came to receive 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 make sure she didn’t have any side effects.
“I felt normal, fine,” Lantigua said.
As the Delta variant spread 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 begin to gradually re-open schools in October after the vaccination campaign among children is completed.