Portugal, one of the countries with the highest vaccination rates in the world, is launching a vaccination campaign today for children aged 5 to 11, following in the footsteps of other European countries as the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus spreads.
Nearly 800,000 children, of whom about 640,000 are in this age group, have made an appointment to be vaccinated with the first dose of Pfizer for children this weekend.
“I was worried, but not anymore,” said ten-year-old Paulo, after he was vaccinated at a Lisbon vaccination center.
“His older brother, who is 12 years old, has already been vaccinated and so he wanted to come too,” said his mother, Zelia Monte, adding that she was “relieved” that the whole family had been vaccinated because the 85-year-old grandfather of the children lived together. their.
“I respect the opinion of doctors and they say vaccines are safe,” said Joanna Espirito Santo, a 41-year-old telephone operator who accompanies her 11-year-old twins. “Fake news scares me,” she comments.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa called on citizens to be vaccinated and explained on Friday that the spread of the new coronavirus was greater “among unvaccinated children and their parents”.
With 88.9% of the population of 10.3 million people vaccinated, Portugal ranks second in the world in terms of the highest vaccination rates, after the United Arab Emirates, according to the website “Our World in Data” .
In addition, more than 2.2 million booster doses have already been administered, offering protection of up to 80% for those over 80 and 70% for those aged 65-79, according to Health Minister Marta Temido.
In addition to vaccination coverage, the government has imposed a number of measures since early December, such as the wider use of the mask, the vaccination certificate and diagnostic tests.
Portugal is one of those countries that requires a negative coronavirus test from travelers arriving in its territory, even those who have been vaccinated.
This measure will be extended beyond the originally scheduled date announced by the Prime Minister, January 9th.
Despite the restrictions, the number of new daily cases is at its highest level since last February and the number of ICU hospitalizations has doubled in one month, increasing occupancy by more than 60%.
As in other European countries, the Omicron variant is spreading and is projected to be responsible for 80% of new cases by the end of the year.
To limit contacts after the holiday gatherings, the government has decided to extend the school holidays and make teleworking mandatory for the first week of January.