'Vaccine sceptic' Bolsonaro criticises health regulator, dismisses vaccinating children

WION Web Team
Brasília, Brazil Published: Jan 07, 2022, 08:01 AM(IST)

Bolsonaro cautioned that Pfizer has not assumed responsibility for the side effects the vaccine could have on children and that parents should immediately consult a doctor if their child develops chest pains or a lack of breath. Photograph:( WION Web Team )

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Bolsonaro said vaccinations could cause side effects in children, but provided no evidence to support his claim. Globally, Anvisa and health regulators have concluded that COVID-19 vaccines are safe from age 5 onward

On Thursday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro criticized the health regulator Anvisa for approving the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years against COVID-19, a day after his health minister announced plans to immunise this age group.

Repeating that his 11-year-old daughter Laura will not be getting any coronavirus vaccine, the vaccine sceptic Bolsonaro said in a radio interview that he had never heard of a child dying from COVID-19.

Also read | ‘Won’t vaccinate daughter against COVID-19', says Brazilian President Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro said vaccinations could cause side effects in children, but provided no evidence to support his claim. Globally, Anvisa and health regulators have concluded that COVID-19 vaccines are safe from age 5 onward.

"Are you going to vaccinate your child when the possibility of dying is almost zero? What is behind this? What are the interests of vaccine maniacs?" Bolsonaro stated.

On Wednesday, the country's Ministry of Health announced that it had purchased 20 million pediatric vaccines from Pfizer Inc. A voluntary vaccination program for children 5 to 11 years old will begin by the end of the month.

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Later that night, in a social media broadcast, Bolsonaro stressed that vaccinations were not mandatory.

"No town mayor or state governor can prevent a child from going to school for not being vaccinated," he said.

Bolsonaro cautioned that Pfizer has not assumed responsibility for the side effects the vaccine could have on children and that parents should immediately consult a doctor if their child develops chest pains or a lack of breath.

In December 2021, Anvisa approved the Pfizer vaccine for children, drawing harsh criticism from people opposed to vaccines and even from the President, who suggested children only be vaccinated with a doctor's prescription.

Also read | Bolsonaro threatens disclosing names of officials who approved Covid jabs for children

However, the ministry discarded the idea as impractical. In a public hearing health experts said that requiring a written prescription would discourage vaccination at a time when the more transmissible coronavirus variant Omicron is spreading in Brazil.

In Brazil, at least 300 children aged 5 to 11 have died from COVID-19 by the start of December, according to the national council of state health secretaries.

This week, Brazil's Army also differed from the president on how to deal with COVID-19. Soldiers were instructed to get vaccinated, wear masks, maintain social distance, and not spread false information about the pandemic.

(With inputs from agencies)

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