COFEPRIS Authorized Pfizer Vaccine for Mexican Children
On Mar. 03, 2022, COFEPRIS announced the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children between five to 11 years old in emergency cases. The vaccine for children has different components from the adult one and requires only one dose. Mexico’s Health Deputy, Hugo López-Gatell, is being criticized for not communicating the approval before it circulated in social media.
“Silence has been kept because the vaccine authorization opens the door to a big number of legal protections and pressure for the government to buy the pediatric Pfizer vaccine,” said Laurie Ximéz-Fyvie, Doctor, Harvard, to MVS.
Since COVID-19 vaccines became available, parents have been requesting the vaccination of their children. In June 2021, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved in Mexico for children between 12 to 17 years. Children aged 11 and younger would have to wait several months for the vaccine to be authorized, a concerning matter to those suffering from risk factors for severe COVID-19, which include neurologic neurodevelopmental and neuromuscular conditions, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and heart and pulmonary diseases.
In Mexico, over 1,000 children have died from COVID-19, but throughout the sanitary crisis authorities have been reluctant to vaccinate children. López-Gatell has argued that the vaccine should be used first on those with a higher risk of complications.
Apart from protecting children’s health, vaccinating this age group helps countries to reduce intergenerational transmission and to progress to other social goals, as reported by WHO. According to the organization, children and adolescents have been highly affected by COVID-19 control measures. School closures have caused mental and emotional problems and isolation has made children targets of domestic violence. Moreover, there has been a disruption in nutrition and physical activities.
To address this scenario, López-Gatell invited parents to take their children back to schools. “The neuropsychological development of children and adolescents is affected more with each day spent out of school. Schools are safe places against COVID-19,” he said.
However, parents are not as confident in taking their children back to school, reporting concerns of limited health protection. On Feb. 17, 2022, NGOs Save the Children and Femmex urged the government to vaccinate children to ensure a safe return to schools. “Just as how adults had the right to protect their health, the government cannot violate this right in the children just because the virus is not as severe for them,” reads the statement.