China will begin vaccinating children at 3 years old as more cases are reported

China is home to 76% of the world's population, and children as young as three years old will be receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Authorities have a zero tolerance policy for outbreaks.

China will begin vaccinating children at 3 years old as more cases are reported

China is now one of very few countries to begin vaccinating their children against the virus at an early age. Cuba has, for example, begun a vaccination drive for children as young at 2. Many European countries and the U.S. allow COVID-19 shots for children as young as 12 years old. However, the United States is quickly moving to open vaccinations to children aged 5 to 11.

Recently, notices were issued by the Chinese provincial and local governments in at least five Chinese provinces stating that children aged 3-11 years old will need to have their vaccines.

As China takes new measures to combat small outbreaks, the vaccination campaign has been expanded. After discovering new COVID-19 infections, Gansu, a province in the north, was forced to close all tourist facilities Monday. Due to an outbreak in Inner Mongolia, residents have been asked to remain indoors.

According to the National Health Commission, 35 cases of local transmission were reported by health officials in the last 24 hours. Four of these were found in Gansu. Additional 19 cases were also found in the Inner Mongolia Region, and others are scattered throughout the country.

China has used quarantines, lockdowns and compulsory testing to combat the virus during the pandemic. It has also successfully eradicated local infections and fully vaccinated 1.07 billion of its population of 1.4 million.

The government is particularly concerned about the spread by travelers of the more contagious Delta variant and the need to have a large vaccination pool ahead of the Beijing Olympics in Feb. Participants will be kept in a bubble that separates them from others.

Based on public data, China's most popular vaccines, Sinopharm, and Sinovac, have proven effective in preventing severe diseases and the transmission of the virus. Officials say that they are still protective, but it is not clear if they provide protection against the delta variant.

The provinces of Fujian, Hubei and Hainan all published notices at the provincial level alerting about new vaccination requirements. Individual cities in Zhejiang and Hunan also issued similar announcements.

China approved two vaccines in June -- Sinopharm's from Beijing Institute of Biological Products, and Sinovac -- but only 12 years old and older were vaccinated. Another vaccine, Sinopharm, was approved by regulators at the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products in August.

After vaccines were approved in China for use in children, foreign governments started giving shots to their children. Children 6-11 years old in Cambodia can use both Sinovac or Sinopharm's shots. Chilean regulators approved Sinovac as a vaccine for children as young at 6. The Sinopharm vaccine was approved by regulators in Argentina for children under 3.

Many countries in developing nations were left out of the race for vaccines from Western pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna and Pfizer. According to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it has shipped over 1.2 billion doses of vaccines since September.

Even though the vaccine is widely used in the United States and around the world, not all parents are convinced. There is less data available about the shots.

Wang Lu, a resident of Fuzhou, Fujian province's southern city, stated that she isn’t rushing to get her three-year-old son immunized. Wang stated that she isn't sure about the vaccine's safety profile so she doesn't want her son vaccinated.

Sinovac began an efficacy study with 14,000 children in multiple countries in September. It was approved in China based on phase 1 and 2 smaller trials. The approval of Sinopharm's Beijing shot was also based on smaller phase 1, and phase 2, trials. These were later published in peer-reviewed journals.

Others parents stated that they were not concerned because so many people had received the shot before them.

Wu Cong, a mother of a seven-year-old, stated that her daughter's Shanghai school hadn't yet informed them about any vaccinations.

Wu stated, "I believe this isn’t too different than the flu vaccine. There have been so many people vaccinated so I don’t have too much worry."