Chile starts vaccinating kids ages 3-5

Santiago, Dec 6 (EFE).- Chilean health authorities on Monday announced the start of a campaign to provide Covid-19 vaccinations to all children ages 3-5, a measure that will benefit more than 700,000 minors nationwide.

“This vaccine, besides protecting the children, also protects their parents, their mothers and fathers, and allows children to be able to play more safely, … to be able to enjoy themselves, to be able to be children with that tranquility that being protected provides,” said Chilean President Sebastian Piñera.

The inoculation process, using the Coronavac vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac laboratory, was touted by Health Minister Enrique Paris as a “very important advance,” exceeding goals set by the Piñera administration.

Chile has undertaken one of the world’s most successful mass vaccination efforts, and now 90.7 percent of the population is fully inoculated, and it is also the country that has administered the largest number of booster doses, presumably in percentage terms, according to the University of Oxford.

About eight million people have already received a booster shot, out of a total of 15 million residents.

The most-used vaccine to date in Chile has been Coronavac, although the Pfizer/BioNtech, AstraZeneca and Cansino vaccines have also been administered to a lesser degree.

The coronavirus pandemic – which had its peak between March and June 2020 in Chile and forced the government once again to order the quarantine of more than 90 percent of the population – has been under control for more than three months, although there have been slight resurgences that have not triggered any significant health alarms.

Last Saturday, however, Chile’s first case of the Omicron variant was detected in Valparaiso and so health authorities issued a warning – directed in particular at non-vaccinated citizens – to get inoculated so increase their protection vis-a-vis this rapidly-spreading mutation of the virus.

To date, the Health Ministry (Minsal) has reported that a total of 11,277 people in Chile are in the “active” phase of the disease, meaning that they can infect others.

Meanwhile, Minsal’s Statistics and Information Department reported the deaths of 30 people within the last 24 ours, raising the official Covid-19 death toll to 38,531 since the start of the health emergency.

Chile, which has suffered 1.77 million Covid-19 infections, enjoys relatively few movement and other health-related restrictions compared to many other nations. There is no curfew or quarantine at present and all businesses, bars and restaurants are open.

Vaccinated foreigners have been allowed to enter the country since October through four Chilean airports.

EFE ssb/rfg/rrt/bp

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