A Caribbean island started immunizing toddlers against the deadly disease on Sept. 6.
Cuba is already administering COVID-19 vaccine shots to minors aged between 2 and 18. The communist regime is the world’s first authority to do so with domestically made vaccines Abdala and Soberana according to France 24.
Cuban officials approved the doses for emergency use on Sept. 3. The program kicked off without the World Health Organization’s endorsement.
Cuban vaccines use the same recombinant protein formula as Novavax, a U.S.-made competitor that has not been approved. The non-messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines are touted to cause fewer side-effects and produce a stronger immune response among minors.
The state-owned Finlay Institute, which helped develop the Soberana vaccine, claimed the Cuba vaccines were safe for minors during the trial stage according to the Independent.
Face-to-face learning has been canceled since March 2020, and Cuban students have resorted to televized lessons due to a lack of internet access. The island expects to resume normal teaching once all eligible students take the jab.
Cuba is among the hardest countries since the Delta variant spread. A relentless spike of new infections pushed the country’s medical system to the edge. Reuters reported the country recorded between 6,500 and 7,000 cases a day in the past week, with between 70 and 80 deaths disclosed.
The Independent revealed a third of total COVID-19 cases and fatalities emerged in the past month alone.
Home to about 11.33 million citizens, Cuba has a total of 696,904 infections and 5,788 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic according to John Hopkins University data.
About half of Cuba’s population has had at least one vaccine shot, with about 3.5 million residents fully immunized.
The country is struggling to resolve supply shortages affecting food, pharmaceuticals, power plants part and agricultural production. This is due to a surge in infections, a tourism industry shutdown, and various U.S. sanctions.