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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Portugal: Children COVID-19 Vaccines Start This Weekend

Updated: Dec 21, 2021


A three-month program for voluntary vaccination of children 5 to 11 years old against COVID-19 is scheduled to start on the weekend of December 18. It will begin with children aged 10 and 11, according to the Deputy Minister of State and Health, Antonio Lacerda Sales, in Correio da Manha (December 11).

From the 6th to the 9th of January, children aged 7 to 9 will take their turn. On the 15th and 16th of January, those aged 6 and 7 will get their vaccines, and on January 22nd and January 23, vaccination will be dedicated to those who are 5 years old.

From February 5th until March 13th, second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to the children.

“Today, we defend our future,” said Lacerda Sales, on December 10, when he made the announcement.

On the days when the children are vaccinated, there will not be administering of vaccines to adults. During the next three months, nearly 1.3 million vaccines of a pediatric Pfizer vaccine will be given to more than 643,000 children of ages 5 to 11.

The pediatric Pfizer vaccine consists of one-third of the adult dose, according to SIC Noticias (December 13).

Children who have had COVID-19 will have to wait 90 days before receiving their jab.

Self-scheduling for children in specific age categories became available on December 13. Those 65 and older also may make online appointments. This age group became eligible for the COVID-19 booster shot coupled with a flu vaccine on November 18 after those in senior citizen homes, 80 and older, health workers and firefighters. The age limit will drop as time goes on.

Those 50 and older who have received the single-dose Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, in which studies show a decrease in immunity, may receive the booster shot at vaccination centers – without appointment -- on December 12 and December 19, according to SIC Noticias (December 9). This process began on December 5 and December 8. The booster can be taken 90 days after the single dose and will be either Pfizer or Moderna.

For vaccines other than Janssen, the booster dose is administered five or six months after the second dose. The European Medicines Agency has reduced the interval from six to three months, according to SIC Noticias (December 9).

For children, the interval is six to eight weeks, according to Publico (December 10).

Graça Freitas, the head of the DGS (Directorate-General for Health), guaranteed that children who are not vaccinated will not suffer any negative consequences.

“No one prohibits a child unvaccinated against measles from entering anywhere” she said. “It is the price society has to pay to maintain freedom.”

The decision to allow vaccination of children stems from the recommendation of the DGS after hearing the Technical Vaccination Commission and considering the logistical issues, namely the availability of vaccines, said Lacerda Sales, in Correio da Manha.

In an opinion submitted to the Technical Commission on Vaccination, pediatric experts advocated that children at risk and adults should be given priority.

According to Graça Freitas, the Technical Vaccination Commission considered the proposal for children's vaccination in two stages: the recommendation for universal vaccination and the process of vaccination, such as the interval between doses, which should be six to eight weeks.

In the past 14 days, 451 children from 5 to 9 years old fell ill with COVID-19, said the DGS director, according to Correio da Manha (December 11).

Graça Freitas said that the decision to vaccinate the youngest is due to the “direct and physical benefits”, such as protection against infection and severity of the disease. She added that schools may change their responses to COVID-19.

“A vaccinated child may not be considered as high risk. We are going to evaluate. Vaccination may shorten the isolation periods.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic nearly two years ago, there have been 69, 773 cases of infection in the 5-11 age group. There were 196 hospitalizations in this age group, which covers 10.8 percent of the population.

On December 10, 90,056 vaccines were administered in Portugal, according to the DGS Daily Vaccination Report. Of these, 64,506 were booster doses and 21,448 flu vaccines. Nearly 2 million people have received a booster dose, according to Correio da Manha (December 12). Portugal’s population is 10.3 million, according to the 2021 Census. A total of 9.03 million, or 87.6 percent, have been fully vaccinated with two doses or one in the case of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.

There are 38 cases of Omicron, the newest variant, registered in the country, said Graça Freitas. Two suspected cases are of a child and a youth, and they are under analysis.

The national incidence of COVID-19 cases soared to 457.7 per 100,000 people in 14 days, reported Correio da Manha (December 12).

Lisbon and the Vale do Tejo is the region of the country with the most newest cases diagnosed on December 10 in the past 24 hours at 1,227 followed closely by the North at 1,126. Central Portugal had 898; the Algarve 240; Madeira 137; the Alentejo 84, and the Azores 30, according to The Portugal News (December 10).

“The number of municipalities with high risk and very high risk of COVID-19 increased this week from 154 to 194, with 10 municipalities at extreme risk, according to the DGS on December 3, reported Diario as Beiras (December 4). There are 308 municipalities in Portugal.

The highest incidences were in Barrancos at 2,773 cases per 100,000 persons; Carregal do Sal at 1,847, and Guarda at 1,231. Coimbra had 766 cases per 100,000; Viseu, 675; Nelas, 570; Lisboa, 565; Serta, 412; Tabua, 333, and Santa Comba Dao at 326 cases per 100,000 people, according to DGS in Correio da Manha.

In Oliveira do Hospital, there were 26 new cases of COVID-19 on December 7, according to Radio Boa Nova (December 10). There are 47 active cases in the Coimbra municipality.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,828 cases, 1,739 recoveries and 42 deaths in Oliveira do Hospital, which has a population of 19,421.

Nationally, on December 10, the DGS daily bulletin showed 16 deaths caused by COVID-19 infection, 947 people hospitalized, 14 fewer than on December 9, according to The Portugal News (December 10). A total of 137 were in intensive care, five fewer than on the previous day.

Of the 16 deaths, seven occurred in Lisbon and the Vale do Tejo; four in Central Portugal; three in the North, and two in the Algarve, reported The Portugal News.

By age group, seven people who died were older than 80 years old, five between 70 and 79 years old, two between 60 and 69 years old, one between 50 and 59, and one between 40 and 49.

The greatest number of deaths continues to be concentrated among the elderly over 80 years old (12,123 of the total 18,626 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic), followed by the age groups between 70 and 79 years (4,013) and between 60 and 69 years (1,701), reported The Portugal News.

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