Brazil bars schools from mandating vaccination for students

Brasilia, Dec 30 (EFE).- Brazil’s right-wing government issued an executive order Thursday prohibiting schools from requiring students to get the Covid-19 vaccine as President Jair Bolsonaro continues to campaign against giving the shot to children under 12.

“The demand for proof of immunization as an indirect way to induce compulsory vaccination can only by established by law,” according to the text published in the official gazette over the signature of Education Minister Milton Ribeiro.

Because obligatory immunization is not contemplated in existing legislation, “it is not possible that federal teaching institutions establish the demand for vaccination against Covid-19 as a condition for the return to in-person educational activities,” the order says.

The next academic session begins at the end of January and as of now, the plan is for students to be back in the classroom after 16 months of mainly remote learning due to the pandemic that has killed nearly 620,000 Brazilians.

Anvisa, Brazil’s medical regulatory agency, issued an authorization on Dec. 16 to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Around 80 percent of Brazilian adults have had at least one dose of vaccine, but Bolsonaro has sought to create obstacles to inoculating youngsters, going so far as to demand the release of the names of the Anvisa scientists who granted approval.

The administration also issued a directive to require a doctor’s prescription for vaccination of children under 12, only for the National Council of Health Secretaries (Conass) to issue a statement vowing to “facilitate the vaccination of all little Brazilians.”

Parents who bring their children to vaccination stations will not be asked to produce a prescription or any other document, Conass said.

The 27 health secretaries cited a decision last year by Brazil’s Supreme Court that state and municipal governments are free to adopt the measures they decide are appropriate to deal with the pandemic.

Even so, the Bolsonaro administration has opened a “public consultation” on the advisability of vaccinating children and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga continues to insist that shots for kids require a doctor’s prescription. EFE The Brazilian president is the world’s most prominent pandemic denialist, repeatedly dismissing Covid-19 as a “measly flu,” denouncing state and municipal governments for mask mandates and other preventive measures and resisting calls to address the economic effects of the public health crisis. EFE ed/dr

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