Cambodia on Friday began immunizing children as young as six against coronavirus, although the WHO has not yet approved any vaccines for children under 12.
The Southeast Asian country has been praised for its vaccination campaign, with 98% of adults having received at least one dose to date, according to Cambodia’s health ministry.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s grandson was among the first children to receive a dose of China’s Sinovac vaccine on Friday in front of reporters in Phnom Penh.
“It is necessary that we do this because we have to get ahead,” said Hun Sen.
The kingdom plans to give two doses of Sinovac to children between the ages of six and 12, as well as a booster dose later.
Sinovac has been approved for adults in more than 50 countries, but so far only China has approved its use in children and has recently started giving it to millions of young people aged three and over.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the benefits of immunizing children under 12 have not yet been proven.
“There is a need for more data on the use of different Covid-19 vaccines in children in order to be able to make general recommendations,” said the United Nations health agency.
A global study on the effectiveness of the Sinovac vaccine in young people aged six months to 17 years was launched last week.
The research will involve 14,000 children and adolescents in South Africa, Chile, Kenya, Malaysia and the Philippines.
But Hun Sen, the strongman who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades, dismissed security concerns.
“Cambodia has a duty to protect the lives of its people and has a duty to reopen the economy, including education,” he said.
Schools in some low-risk areas of the country reopened this week, and Hun Sen said a pilot project to reopen borders to tourists was under consideration.
Visitors would be exempt from the 14-day quarantine, but would have to stay in some provinces for at least seven days.
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