What is the percentage of children and adolescents vaccinated in the country? What will be the changes in the protocol for returning to the classroom? Under what parameters will it be decided to isolate the students and go virtual? What will finally happen with the health pass in schools? Will kids be able to get vaccinated in schools?
The countdown is already underway, and only six weeks after the start of classes throughout the country, although Corrientes and the City of Buenos Aires start on February 14 and 22 respectively, the authorities of the Argentine Society of Pediatrics (SAP) , of the Ministries of Health and Education of the Nation, of Unicef and of the Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents met this afternoon to share data and define strategies to answer these questions.
The venue for the meeting was the Ministry of Health of the Nation, although under a hybrid modality according to the preference of the participants. As confided to THE NATION Dr. Pablo Moreno, president of the Argentine Society of Pediatrics, the meeting was very positive. All agreed that rapid progress must be made in pediatric vaccination, among other issues, to guarantee attendance and have the best possible start to classes. “Joint and intersectoral actions are the only way to get ahead,” said Moreno convinced.
Among the advances regarding pediatric vaccination against Covid-19, the least immunized so far and also the last to join the campaign, the Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, reported that there are 70% of boys between 3 and 11 years old who already have a dose of the vaccine, while 46% have already completed the full scheme. Among adolescents, the percentage is higher, with 67% who have already received both doses.
Given this scenario, according to the specialists, an improvement in the vaccination curve is expected over the next three weeks. For that date also, between February 8 and 10, the changes in the protocol for returning to the classroom will be discussed in the Federal Council of Health and the Federal Council of Education, although the definitive variations depend on how the situation evolves. epidemiological.
As the Minister of Education, Jaime Perczyk, had already announced to LA NACIÓN, one of the proposals to accelerate vaccination in students is to install clinics in schools, something that he also mentioned this afternoon the Buenos Aires Minister of Health, Nicolás Kreplak, who did not miss the opportunity to reproach the SAP for having raised doubts at the time about the approval of the Sinopharm vaccine for this age group. “There are still negative consequences of a mistake made by the Argentine Society of Pediatrics, which questioned the vaccine. Then he backed off. But there are still many pediatricians who, in a very mistaken way, wrong and, I believe that doing malpractice, they do not indicate the vaccine to the boys, ”said Kreplak.
For Perczyk, if anything has been learned during the pandemic, it is that when health policies reach the school, success is resounding. Preventive health actions, according to the minister, must be given in schools. That will report that the progress in vaccination reaches the levels that Argentina needs, which is exceed the 70 percent limit. And that same idea was what he repeated this afternoon at the meeting of experts, where he also assured that the rule for the next school year will be face-to-face.
classroom in quarantine
Regarding the definition of an inter-institutional outbreak, or within a classroom, the parameters are not yet defined, and to determine in what situation students of the same grade or course should be isolated -and thus go from face-to-face to virtual format- , the Government analyzes the experiences that are now in practice in European countries such as Spain or the United Kingdom, although there also with constant changes that, according to international newspapers, brings innumerable logistics and organization problems, both in schools and in families.
In Spain, for example, today a classroom must be quarantined from the five infections, and that could be, among others, one of the measures applicable in our country. The chinstraps will continue to be more valid than ever, and the pediatrician Moreno advises that their use must be correct so that they serve as a protection barrier, but they must also be comfortable.
According to reports, regarding the health pass and its possible obligation to go to school, the health, education and Ombudsman for the Rights of Children and Adolescents authorities agreed that “Making the vaccine mandatory is contrary to the rights of children.”
The head of Education in the city of Buenos Aires, Soledad Acuna, also referred yesterday to minors who are not inoculated and assured that in Buenos Aires territory The Sanitary Pass will not be required to enter schools because “it would mean prohibiting access to education to children whose parents do not take them to vaccinate.” In any case, Acuña was concerned about accelerating the rate of application among students.
Regarding this concern, Vizzotti said at the meeting that “we must overthrow the concept that the rate of vaccination [en los menores] is stagnant”, and that in terms of infections in boys and girls, the cases follow the general curve of the country. In recent weeks, as reported, cases have increased among the population aged 20 to 40.
Another of the issues that was debated, and which was one of the consequences of the mandatory isolation that was imposed by the pandemic, is the low level of schedule vaccinations, something that pediatricians have been warning about since the middle of 2020, when parents stopped taking their children to regular consultations and check-ups. Moreno indicated that, for example, tracer vaccines such as BCG suffered a drop from 90 to 72 percent; the third dose of the polio vaccine also registered a decrease. That of hepatitis B, decreased from 99% to 72%, and something similar happened with the quintuple and the triple viral.