Cuba on Monday became the first country in the world to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children aged two to 18 using locally made jabs, which are not acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Daily Mail reported that the Communist government is pushing to vaccinate 11.2 million people including children before gradually reopening the schools. The move is part of UNICEF’s call to reopen schools as soon as possible because the closures provided unjustifiably high costs. However, children in Cuba will continue with remote learning until all kids are vaccinated. Most Cuban homes do not have access to the internet, so the lessons are being taught via television programs.

With Abdala and Soberana vaccines completing their clinical trials, Cuba kicked off its vaccination drive for children aged 12 and older on Friday. The new school year started on Monday and in the central province of Cienfuegos, children in the age groups of 2 to 11 years were also vaccinated by the government. Several other countries are inoculating children from the age of 12, however, others are still conducting research concerning younger kids.

Cuba is the first country to start the initiative while countries such as China, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela have said that they are still in the planning phase to vaccinate younger children. Also, Chile recently announced that the country will look to vaccinate children in the 6 to 12 age group when it approved China-manufactured Sinovac vaccines.

Cuban vaccines are known to be the first jabs developed in Latin America. But the shots do not have any kind of international or peer scientific review as of this writing. Recombinant protein technology was used in the making of these vaccines – mirroring the ones used by the United States' Novavax and France's Sanofi vaccines that are also awaiting approval from the WHO. Unlike many jabs used in other countries, recombinant vaccines do not need extreme refrigeration.

Among the first ones to get the Cuban-made jab was Laura Lantigua, 17. She took the vaccine shot at Saul Delgado high school in the capital city of Havana, France 24 reported. The teenager said that she always wanted to be vaccinated and she felt fine after taking the jab.

With COVID-19 producing variants such as Delta, Cuba’s health care system has been tested and pushed to the limit. About 5,700 coronavirus deaths have been recorded in the country since the outbreak started. Nearly half of those numbers were from last month alone.

Teenager inoculated with Cuban vaccine Soberana Plus Brian Alejandro Gascon, 13, is inoculated against COVID-19 with Cuban vaccine Soberana Plus, on August 24, 2021 at Juan Manuel Marquez hospital in Havana, as part of the vaccine study in children and adolescents. Photo by Adalberto Roque/AFP via Getty Images