BUCHAREST (AP) — Romania on Wednesday started administering COVID-19 vaccines to young teenagers aged 12 to 15, after the European Medicines Agency approved use of the Pfizer jab last week for that age group in the 27-nation European Union.
National vaccination committee chief Valeriu Gheorghita said more than 2,100 appointments were made for children in the past 24 hours via the online national booking platform.
Vaccination centers will also accept no-appointment walk-ins, he said, speaking at the inauguration of a children’s vaccination center in the capital, Bucharest.
“By authorizing the vaccination of those between 12 to 15 years old, we bring an important advantage especially for kids with chronic diseases or other conditions which make them vulnerable to serious illness,” Gheorghita said.
Accompanied by her father, 12-year-old Alexandra Maiorescu, who is afraid of needles, got her jab from Gheorghita.
“He explained what he did step-by-step. It did not hurt as much as I expected but I was very afraid,” she told The Associated Press. “I may go to see a movie, I really was longing for that during the pandemic.”
The girl's vaccination also came as a relief for her father, Mihai Maiorescu.
“Our daughter (has) had pneumonia, and we knew that if she gets (COVID-19) she might not heal easily,” he said. “I was hoping she wouldn’t cry, and she didn’t.”
Since launching its vaccination campaign, Romania has administered nearly 8 million vaccine doses to its population of more than 19 million. But just 3.7 million people have so far been fully inoculated.
In recent weeks the number of administered daily vaccine doses in the Eastern European country has dropped, raising concerns about vaccine hesitancy in a country where COVID-19 has killed more than 30,000.
Gheorghita said Wednesday that “vaccination remains the safe and effective way to return to normality.” But he also addressed the need to extend vaccinations to rural areas where take-up lags behind urban areas.