UGANDA – Uganda will start vaccinating children under 15 years of age against COVID-19 once the country receives supplies of the Pfizer vaccine, a senior government official has said.

Uganda is hoping to get doses of Pfizer vaccine and when we get them, we will vaccinate children. There are a few doses, so we shall only vaccinate those children who are at risk of severe disease,” said Musenero, the minister for science and technology.

She said children with diabetes, high blood pressure, sickle cell anemia, or any other disease which puts them at high-risk will be given top priority.

Uganda is this month expected to receive 647,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the World Health Organization COVAX facility. It is also expected to receive more doses of AstraZeneca and a donation of Sinovac vaccine from China.

In March this year, Pfizer-BioNtech said its COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated 100% efficacy in a series of trials on adolescents aged between 12 to 15 years.

Two months later, the Food and Drug Administration approved an Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, making it the first COVID-19 shot available for this age group.

However, severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children, but deaths have been reported. As of May 6 2021, more than 3.85 million children had tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, representing 14% of the population, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

According to the FDA, approximately 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in individuals 11 to 17 years of age were reported to the CDC between March 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021.

Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

A month ago, pharmaceutical giant, Moderna, which is also Pfizer’s biggest competitor on Covid vaccines, submitted their request to the FDA to have their vaccine approved for children in this age set.

If granted the approval, it is likely to dramatically expand the number of shots available to middle and high school students.

U.S. regulators are expected to grant Moderna’s request for use in teens. The approval process could take about a month. Pfizer and BioNTech requested expanded use of their shot in adolescents on April 9, for example, and were authorized by the FDA on May 10.

Uganda has so far vaccinated over 1.1 million people against the virus. Scientists in the East African country said if more than 21 million people, or nearly half of the country’s population, are immunized, COVID-19 would be put at bay.

Since the pandemic kicked in March last year, the country has registered a total of 92,490 infections and 2,557 deaths due to COVID-19.

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