Ecuador begins vaccinating more than 2 mn children aged 6-11

Quito, Oct 18 (EFE).- Ecuador on Monday began administering doses of Covid-19 vaccine to more than two million minors aged six to 11, the latest step in the country’s fast-moving immunization campaign.

Ecuadorian Vice President Alfredo Borrero, a neurosurgeon, kicked off that new stage in the country’s rollout by vaccinating several children at a school in this capital.

“The vaccination process has never stopped,” he said, adding that the effort to inoculate young children is part of Ecuador’s goal of achieving herd immunity in the coming months.

The population is becoming less fearful about the virus as the vaccine rollout advances, according to Borrero, who nevertheless urged people to continue to social distance, wash their hands frequently and use face masks.

He said if there is evidence of the need to administer a third dose of the vaccine that process could begin next year.

Education Minister Maria Brown said for her part that Monday’s rollout includes 2.01 million children in the national education system and will instill confidence in teachers, families and ordinary citizens about a full return to in-person schooling.

“We’re now at 32 percent of educational institutions nationwide that have the permission to use their installations,” she said, noting that classroom capacity will gradually increase but schools will not let down their guard with respect to biosafety precautions.

Marjorie Villalba, the mother of a 10-year-old girl, said the new vaccination drive has put her more at ease, calling it the first step in a return to in-person classes and pre-pandemic life.

She told Efe that her daughter was nervous about getting the vaccine but above all is “happy because what she wants the most is to go back to school.”

Health Minister Ximena Garzon said, meanwhile, that administering vaccines to children aged six to 11 is important for the resumption of in-person schooling.

But she added that minors below that age range must first receive their regular schedule of vaccines before being inoculated against Covid-19.

A total of 523,676 coronavirus cases have been confirmed to date in Ecuador via PCR tests, according to Garzon, who said the pandemic is “under control” but not yet over and urged people to continue to follow all biosafety protocols. EFE


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