SANTIAGO DE CHILE (AP) – Chile, which has nearly two million vaccinated against the new coronavirus in less than two weeks, began mass immunization of teachers on Monday amid their refusal to return to face-to-face classes provided by the government for March.
The vaccination started with teachers and education assistants over 60 years of age and a week before the initial calendar scheduled by the Ministry of Health, which delayed the inoculation of chronically ill patients for the same period. In the following days the age will decrease until the immunization of the 513,000 people who work in the education of children and adolescents is completed.
“Today, being vaccinated and starting with the (massive) vaccination, a light of hope opens up for us, that we will meet again in a suitable time with our children,” said Gloria Alfaro, a kindergarten educator who became the first teacher to be inoculated.
The advance of the vaccination coincided with severe criticism from the union leaders, who are not willing to resume face-to-face classes until the teachers have their second dose of the vaccine from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.
Chile stands out as the Latin American country with the most vaccinated, with 1.9 million out of a general population of 19 million. The government of President Sebastián Piñera affirms that by the end of March some five million people will be immunized and by the end of June 80% of the inhabitants of the South American nation.
As in the rest of the countries, workers in critical patients units affected by COVID-19 were vaccinated first, and then the rest of the health officials.
There are several unions that pressure to be included among the priority officials, including those of commerce, to be vaccinated before the general population and at the moment the only ones that have achieved it are the teachers.
Carlos Díaz, president of the teachers’ union, affirmed that “there is no possibility” that the classroom school year begins on March 1, as recommended by the government’s advisory council on education issues.
Mass vaccination is being developed with the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine, the second dose of which should be given 28 days after receiving the first.