President of Panama announces arrival of first batch of pediatric anticovid vaccine

Panama, which is experiencing a fourth pandemic wave driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, will receive around midnight this Sunday the first 60,000 doses of the covid-19 vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years old, announced the country’s president, Laurentino Cortizo.

"We have concluded negotiations with Pfizer for the procurement of pediatric vaccines. (…) Panama will be receiving today at 11:15 pm the first batch of 60,000 pediatric vaccines destined to immunize our boys and girls from 5 to 11 years old"Cortizo said in a speech before Parliament.

The Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre, for his part, specified that this first batch will be used to vaccinate children between 5 and 11 years old who have some type of chronic disease or who are immunosuppressed patients, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health. Health (Minsa).

According to official information, the Government has ordered 1.5 million doses of the pediatric vaccine from the pharmaceutical company, with the plan to begin administering them before the start of classes in face-to-face mode on March 7.

"Let’s do our part, enough with two years" of distance education due to the covid-19 pandemic, said the head of state in a message to teachers, whose leaders have been reluctant to restart face-to-face classes.

Pediatric anticovid doses will arrive in Panama when a fourth pandemic wave develops after the detection of the omicron variant, which according to health authorities will become the dominant one in the Central American country in the coming weeks, which accumulates 497,808 cases of covid-19 and 7,430 deaths from the disease.

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Panama, a country of 4.28 million inhabitants, already has 81.4% of people aged 12 years or more vaccinated with the full schedule (two doses) and 90.4% with one dose.

At least 353,419 booster doses have also been applied, which must be administered three months after the second injection to people over 16 years of age, one of the measures promoted by the Government to confront the omicron variant.

71% of the population between 12 and 19 years of age in Panama have the complete vaccination scheme against covid-19, and 85% with one dose.

Panama has received "a total of 9,091,470 doses (of vaccines against covid-19) and more than 6,297,894 have been applied", highlighted the Panamanian president, who called the immunization program against the disease as "the most complex and successful logistics operation in history" from the country.

"However, although the vaccination process is one of the best in the world, I reiterate that we have not won the war against COVID and we are not close, the omicron is moving forward. The only way to gain ground from this invisible enemy is vaccination and the use of a mask, there is no other", alerted the ruler.

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