08/11/2023 – 17:41
Bruno Spada/Chamber of Deputies
The debate took place at the Financial Inspection and Control Commission
The mandatory application of the Covid-19 vaccine to children aged 6 months to 5 years from next year divided opinions at a public hearing of the Chamber’s Financial Inspection and Control Committee this Wednesday (8).
The debate was provoked by the Ministry of Health’s announcement that immunization against coronavirus will be incorporated into the vaccination calendar of the National Immunization Program (PNI) in 2024. Despite protests from opposition deputies, the director of the PNI, Éder Gatti, stated that the obligation is maintained.
He took numbers to the public hearing showing that, even this year, after the most acute phase of the pandemic, there are cases of hospitalization and deaths from Covid-19 among children under 19 years of age. He also cited Law 6,259/75, which created the PNI, and which says that the program is responsible for defining mandatory vaccines.
The director of the National Immunization Program also invoked the Child and Adolescent Statute, which gives children and young people the right to life and health and provides for mandatory vaccination in cases recommended by health authorities.
“For the PNI, it is a normal procedure, based on epidemiological evidence, safety evidence, immunogenicity, effectiveness. Finally, things that support this decision and that were even discussed by a technical chamber. So, the PNI is complying with the law.”
Bruno Spada/Chamber of Deputies
Éder Gatti: procedure is based on scientific evidence
Three health professionals opposed to the mandatory vaccination against Covid-19 for children were invited to the public hearing. They stated that the number of cases and deaths in children and adolescents in Brazil and around the world is small. They also highlighted that the vaccine does not immunize against new variants.
Infectious disease specialist Francisco Cardoso, for example, reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies children aged 0 to 5 years as a low-risk group for Covid-19. He pointed out side effects of vaccines made using the Messenger RNA technique, such as heart problems.
He also said that the vaccine does not prevent the transmission of the disease. “All studies carried out to date on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine only measure the production of neutralizing antibodies, but do not measure the reduction in viral load, which is what will tell us whether the vaccine was effective or not.”
The majority of deputies who participated in the hearing, all in opposition, demanded that the mandatory vaccination be reviewed and that it be left up to parents to decide whether to immunize their children. Parliamentarians argued that scientific studies are still very recent.
President of the Financial Inspection and Control Commission, deputy Bia Kicis (PL-DF) denied that parliamentarians are “anti-vaccines” and said that the discussion should not be politicized. “There is a globalist elite that does want to force this vaccination, including in babies, and Brazil is being a pioneer in this obligation. In the rest of the world, it can be recommended, but it is not obligatory. Are they going to start in Brazil and then start obliging it in other places too?”
Health doctor, deputy Jorge Solla (PT-BA) highlighted the drop in vaccination rates, a result of the lack of credibility of immunizers among part of the population. “I am very worried because we cannot contribute to making vaccination coverage even worse, not only for Covid-19, but for all vaccines. It is the responsibility of this House, health professionals and the Brazilian State,” he said.
This week, the Financial Inspection and Control Commission approved an invitation to the Minister of Health, Nisia Trindade, to speak about the inclusion of the Covid-19 vaccine in the National Immunization Program (PNI) from 2024. The public hearing is scheduled for 28 from November.
Report – Cláudio Ferreira
Editing – Georgia Moraes