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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Health Dept. prepares to begin vaccinating children ages 6 months through 4 years

Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López

By The Star Staff

The island Department of Health is slated to start vaccinating children from six months to four years of age against the coronavirus with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Over the weekend, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation that all children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC endorsement expands eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children and means that all Americans ages 6 months and older are now eligible for vaccination.

Parents and caregivers can now have their children from 6 months through 4 years of age vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to better protect them from COVID-19. All children, including children who have already had COVID-19, should be vaccinated, the CDC advised.

COVID-19 vaccines have undergone — and will continue to undergo — the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Parents and caregivers can play an active role in monitoring the safety of the vaccines by signing their children up for v-safe — personalized and confidential health check-ins via text messages and web surveys where they can easily share with the CDC how a child feels after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC said.

In this context, the agency established a work plan that includes training the more than 200 pediatric providers of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Puerto Rico, 22,000 vaccines were assigned to serve the newly eligible population.

“Certainly, the announcement is encouraging and fulfills our mission of bringing health to our entire population and that the greatest number of people are vaccinated,” Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López said in a statement. “It is a protection tool for our children between six months and four years of age at a time when there has been an increase in infections as a result of the virus. The results thanks to the vaccination have been favorable, managing to reduce serious cases.”

The vaccination would impact some 106,000 children who are eligible to receive the injection.

Mellado López added that once the vaccines begin to arrive on the island, the Vaccination Program will be distributed to all certified providers who have taken the training that will serve to review the policies and the process of administering the doses.

He emphasized that it is estimated that 7% to 8% of children who have COVID-19 may develop “long COVID,” presenting fatigue, headache, insomnia, concentration problems, muscle and joint pain and cough.

The government’s chief medical officer Iris Cardona said “as infections increase again, protecting our children becomes urgent.”

“We have a tool that continues to offer strong protection against worst-case scenarios of the virus like severe illness and fatalities,” she said. “Vaccines have shown us that they are safe and effective. The Department is ready to begin the inoculation process in an orderly manner. The exhortation to parents is to take their children to them to clarify their reservations or doubts about the vaccine.”

Likewise, the Health Department called on parents, guardians and relatives to vaccinate their children over five years of age with the booster dose. In the age group from five to 11 years, only 1.59% of the age group has the booster.

For more information citizens can call 787-522-3985 Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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