BEIJING, China: With 76 percent of the population being fully vaccinated and authorities maintaining a zero-tolerance policy toward outbreaks, China will begin vaccinating children aged 3 to 11 against COVID-19.
Local city and provincial governments in five Chinese provinces recently issued notices announcing the vaccination of children in this age group.
The move makes China one of the few countries to vaccinate very young children against the virus, in addition to Cuba, which vaccinates children as young as 2, and the U.S. and many European countries that vaccinate children down to the age of 12.
China has also imposed new restrictions to try to contain minor COVID-19 outbreaks.
Throughout the pandemic, the country has employed lockdowns, quarantines and compulsory testing, which enabled it to control local clusters of cases. It has also fully vaccinating 1.07 billion people out of a population of 1.4 billion.
The government is especially concerned about the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant by travelers, and aims to vaccinate most of the public before the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. Overseas spectators have been banned from the games.
Based on public statistics, China’s most widely used vaccines, Sinopharm and Sinovac, have proven effective in preventing severe illness and transmission, but their level of protection against the Delta variant is uncertain.
Hubei, Fujian and Hainan provinces all issued provincial level notices alerting the public about new vaccination requirements, while individual cities in Zhejiang province and Hunan province have also issued similar announcements.
Versions of Sinopharm and Sinovac were already approved for use on children aged 3 to 17 in June, but only those 12 and older are being vaccinated. Cambodia also uses both vaccines on children from 6 to 11.
Due to a lack of public data, some parents remain unsure about vaccinating their children, despite the widespread domestic and international use of the two Chinese vaccines.