Mexico begins COVID-19 vaccination of minors between 15 and 17 years of age

The COVID-19 vaccination for 15-17-year-olds has arrived. The Government announced that the registration for this group is now open, long demanded by the families, especially since the face-to-face classes returned.

The immunization of adolescents has been one of the conflict points between the population and the Government. With the opening of the student classrooms, and even before that, numerous families and teaching unions had been demanding that they be included in the vaccination calendar. But the government refused for some time, arguing that it was not a population at risk. The Executive authorized in June the first biological for people over 12 years old, but families have had to sue to get the doses. Dozens of them have filed amparos in court and although they have obtained rulings in their favor, many times they were not heard by the Government. The Secretary of Health, Jorge Alcocer, said just a few weeks ago that he did not vaccinate his grandchildren because the efficacy was not demonstrated at those ages and instead, that could alter the natural immune adaptation of the youngest.

The Secretary of Health did not admit with all certainty the efficacy of administering a third booster dose to the population already vaccinated, given the decrease in mortality that has been registered with the current scheme. But both the adolescent vaccine and the third dose are making their way in other countries that have a more advanced immunization schedule, which does not mean that they are reducing risks considerably. Europe is already on the alert for a probable new wave. In any case, the reluctance of the Mexican government did not convince those who have children with diabetes or other comorbidities that can complicate a covid infection. Their struggle finally twisted the arm of the Government, which began the campaign in October.

Vaccines continue to arrive and are distributed throughout the country. The current strategy is to complete the second dose in 372 municipalities in 15 states. There are remote areas where the application has not been desirable and there are, as in the whole world, pockets of the population that refuse to be vaccinated. It is also about expanding coverage among pregnant women, which already reaches almost 600,000 with at least one dose; continue with the immunization of adolescents with comorbidities and include those who turn 18 in 2022. Finally, extend the campaign to those aged 15 to 17.

The Government reminds each week that mortality in these ages due to covid is not high. The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, attributed the amparos in courts presented by the families to the interest of the pharmaceutical companies. The voracity of the laboratories is a criticism that is shared in many other places. The statistics shared by the Government every Tuesday indicate that the risk of mortality from covid in these ages ranks seventh, behind assaults, accidents, suicide, cancerous tumors, heart disease, and congenital malformations. In 2020, there were 249 deaths from covid in this population group. But it is not specified whether they had other illnesses or were completely healthy.

Politics and the pandemic have gone hand in hand. On this occasion, the government’s refusal to vaccinate adolescents was joined by the PRI’s counterattack, which made a document available to families who wanted to vaccinate their children so that they could request protection in court. The opposition party understood that vaccinating only those with comorbidities was exclusive and discriminatory, therefore “unconstitutional”. To the initiatives of the opposition, the Government responded by challenging the orders that came from the courts and forced it to vaccinate minors, even if they were healthy. They considered it “excessive.” Today, all that is useless, because the campaign to vaccinate them has kicked off.

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