The state of Sao Paulo began vaccination against covid-19 for children between five and eleven years old this Friday, kicking off a national campaign in Brazil that caused new discord between President Jair Bolsonaro and health authorities.
In a symbolic act at the renowned Hospital de Clínicas, in the center-west of the largest Latin American metropolis, an eight-year-old indigenous minor with motor deficiency became the first child to be vaccinated in Brazil amid a dizzying growth in infections due to the rise of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
This Friday, the country added 112,286 new cases in 24 hours, a figure close to the record of 115,228 daily registered on June 23, when the country was in the midst of the third wave of the pandemic.
“We are vaccinating the first child,” Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, one of the candidates for the October presidential elections, said during the ceremony.
The mass inoculation will begin next week in cities such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte (southeast), with priority given to minors with mobility limitations, permanent deficiencies and vulnerable groups, such as indigenous people, among others.
The vaccination of this group, estimated at 20.5 million people (among a total population of more than 210 million inhabitants), will be carried out with pediatric doses of Pfizer-BioNtech and must have parental authorization.
With the start of this campaign, a month after the health authority (Anvisa) approved these immunizers, Brazil joins a growing list of countries that extended inoculation to this age group, including the United States and Germany.
The start of the vaccination of children was preceded by controversy due to criticism of the government for its alleged delay in giving it a free pass and statements by Bolsonaro that confronted him again with Anvisa.
The far-right president, who says he has not been vaccinated and will not immunize his 11-year-old daughter Laura, weeks ago asked the health agency to publish the names of those responsible for approving the immunization of minors, unleashing a wave of threats against the entity .
Bolsonaro, who has joked that vaccines can turn people into “alligators,” warns of alleged contraindications for minors.
Many specialists consider that the inclusion of children in the vaccination campaign is key to protecting them and stopping the pandemic, at a time when the omicron variant is spreading.
Brazil, which accumulates more than 620,000 deaths from coronavirus, a figure surpassed only by the United States, has 74.1% of the population vaccinated with two doses.
raa / jm / cjc