BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Children in Romania aged between 5-11 will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 starting late January, authorities said, as the country grappled Friday with a virus surge and low adult vaccination rates.

Parents or legal guardians can schedule appointments starting this week to get their children inoculated with Pfizer jabs that will be available from Jan. 26, the national vaccination committee said Thursday.

Health authorities said 219 pediatric vaccination centers are configured in the national programming platform and shots can also be administered without appointments at dedicated centers, and in some general practitioners’ surgeries. The jabs will be administered in 21-day intervals.

Romania, a European Union country of around 19.5 million, has the second-lowest vaccination rate against COVID-19 in the 27-nation bloc, with just 48% of adults fully inoculated, compared to the EU average of 80%. Many other EU countries have already launched vaccination programs for children under 12.

Despite assistance from the bloc’s Commission in December to help Romania launch a media campaign to stimulate its vaccination rate, the daily jab uptake has remained low at around 25,000 over the last week.

The country is currently facing a rapid surge in infections, on Friday registering 9,884 new infections — the highest number of daily cases since early November when infections were dropping following a deadly wave that overwhelmed the country’s underfunded health care system.


Since the pandemic began, Romania has confirmed nearly 1.9 million COVID-19 infections, and 59,180 people have died.

Several hundred cases of the fast-spreading omicron variant have already been confirmed and health officials have warned that new pandemic highs of 25,000 daily infections could be registered in the coming weeks.


Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic