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Brazil to Mandate COVID Shots for Children as Young as 6 Months


The Brazilian Ministry of Health has added the COVID-19 vaccine to the country’s mandatory vaccination schedule for children 6 months to 5 years old, and is considering establishing school vaccination centers with strict reporting requirements.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health has added the COVID-19 vaccine to the country’s National Immunization Program (PNI) for children 6 months to 5 years old, Agência Brasil reported.


The new policy will take effect in 2024, despite growing opposition among Brazilians and testimony by experts highlighting concerns about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for children and increased incidences of myocarditis, pericarditis and other conditions among young vaccinated individuals.


Despite these concerns, which were addressed in a recent hearing before Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies and by several opposition lawmakers, Brazilian Minister of Health Nísia Trindade defended the new policy, while the Brazilian government said families of unvaccinated children will not receive support from the Bolsa Família welfare program.


In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for young children, a bill under consideration by the Brazilian Senate would establish vaccination centers in the country’s schools.


Brazilian government claims new policy aligned with WHO recommendations


According to Brasil 61, the PNI will require three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The first two doses will be administered four weeks apart, while the third dose will be administered eight weeks after the second dose.


Brazilian newspaper O Dia reported that the COVID-19 vaccines that will be available to children include Pfizer’s pediatric formulation for children 6 months to 5 years of age and the Chinese-made CoronaVac (Sinovac) vaccine.


The decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for young children “was taken on the basis of global scientific evidence and epidemiological data of cases and deaths from the disease in the country,” O Dia reported.


According to O Globo, Trindade cited an increase in cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) among children in Brazil as a factor that led to the new policy.


Trindade said over 3,000 cases of SARS were identified in children under age 1, and more than 1,000 cases were reported in children ages 1-4.


“The [Health] Ministry also explained that it follows the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), which in March of this year recommended that immunization be a priority for the high-risk population, such as people with significant comorbidities, including children 6 months or older,” O Dia reported.


According to CNN Brasil, the COVID-19 vaccine also will be prioritized for other “high-risk” groups, including the elderly, immunocompromised, the permanently disabled, pregnant and postpartum women, health workers, those with comorbidities, Indigenous peoples, residents of long-term care facilities, the homeless, the incarcerated and prison staff.


“In Brazil, we have slightly expanded the group compared to WHO’s recommendations, which are more limited,” said Ethel Maciel, secretary of health surveillance for the Brazilian Ministry of Health.


Health officials claim young kids are ‘at risk’


The Brazilian government and several Brazilian media outlets cited a high number of COVID-19-related deaths among children in the country as a justification for the measure, and the fact that, according to Maciel, “more than 60 countries” have already authorized the vaccination of children from the end of 2021.


“We already have very robust evidence that indicates the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” Maciel said. “In Brazil, we had 4,000 people dying every day from COVID-19. Today, we have 42. This is the greatest evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccine.”


O Globo reported that “In 2022, Brazil recorded one death per day among children aged 6 months to 5 years due to COVID-19.”


Infectious disease specialist Dr. Francisco Cardoso told The Defender, “The Brazilian government’s proposal is to include, as mandatory, annual vaccination for COVID-19 in the age group from 6 months to 5 years of age, claiming that they are at-risk groups.”


“The addition of this rule to the PNI calendar makes this rule mandatory, except only in cases of medical certificates with express contraindication,” Cardoso said.


Other experts who spoke with The Defender questioned the new policy.


Dr. Pierre Kory, president and chief medical officer of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, said, “There is no medical justification for a healthy child to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as it represents near nil risk of death or disability to the vast majority while almost all have natural immunity which is as or more protective.”


Parents of unvaccinated children would be stripped of welfare payments


Compliance with the PNI and the new COVID-19 vaccination requirement will be a prerequisite for participation in the “Bolsa Família,” Brazil’s social welfare program.


According to O Dia, “The Bolsa Família Program, created in October 2003, in the first government of [current President] Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva … exists to guarantee basic income for Brazilians and Brazilians in poverty.”


Receipt of the monthly benefit of R$600 (approximately $100), is contingent on families complying “with commitments in the areas of health and education, to strengthen access to their basic social rights,” O Dia reported, adding:


“One of the conditionalities for receiving the benefit is the follow-up of the national vaccination schedule, in addition to the prenatal period, school attendance minimum 60% for children from 4 to 5 years, among other criteria.


“Therefore, with the COVID-19 vaccine included in the national immunization calendar, it is mandatory that families benefited by the program vaccinate children against the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”


Gazeta Do Povo reported that “With the obligation, not vaccinating children could result in fines and loss of social benefits, such as Bolsa Família.”


According to Brazil’s Federal Nursing Council, parents began receiving an additional R$150 (approximately $30) per child each month if they comply with school attendance and vaccination requirements.


Brazilian lawmakers hear testimony from experts about lack of vaccine safety


Opposition lawmaker Bia Kicis on Nov. 21 organized a hearing in the country’s Chamber of Deputies, during which several health experts from around the world testified.


The hearing sought to “discuss the obligation to vaccinate children from 6 months to 5 years of age against COVID,” with “the presence of experts … for clarification about mandatory vaccination in children.”


Cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough told The Defender his testimony “advised that COVID-19 vaccines cause fatal heart damage and a host of other side effects,” and that they are “unsafe for use in children.”


Kory, who also testified, remotely, before Brazilian lawmakers and health officials, said he stressed that “COVID-19 was and remains a highly preventable and treatable illness. There is no medical justification for mandating any vaccine for COVID-19.”


“It is now widely known that the medical evidence on safe and widely available treatments for COVID-19 using repurposed drugs was intentionally suppressed by government agencies and medical authorities,” he added.


McCullough stressed the dangers of myocarditis in his testimony, telling the committee that prior to the pandemic, “myocarditis [was] an infrequent clinical concern and it was an infrequent clinical diagnosis.”


“The COVID-19 vaccines, mRNA and adenoviral DNA vaccines go to the heart,” McCullough said. “They produce spike protein. The spike protein causes inflammation and damage in the human heart. And this is shown with the most detailed necropsy and autopsy studies,” he said, adding that “vaccine-induced myocarditis is common and has no initial symptoms.”


Similarly, Kory told The Defender, “Much of the currently available data raise serious warning signals regarding the rates of myocarditis, as well as the massive spikes in excess mortality measured across the world coincident with the vaccination campaign.”


In her testimony during the Nov. 21 hearing, immunologist and biochemist Jessica Rose, Ph.D., said, “Myocarditis is notoriously being reported in young children in the context of these shots following dose two,” noting that there is “evidence of causation” and that there has been a “fourfold increase in reporting [of myocarditis] in boys.”


Rose also cited data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).


“The average number of adverse events reported for all vaccines combined historically for the past 30 years in VAERS is approximately 39,000,” she said, adding that for the COVID-19 vaccine, “the number of adverse events in VAERS for children aged zero through 18 is just over 75,000 in the context of the COVID-19 shots alone.”


The toxicity and lethality of the vaccine platform is unprecedented,” Kory told The Defender. “Mandating that children must receive the vaccine before this data can be fully analyzed creates an unnecessary risk to their health. We simply do not know enough about the COVID-19 vaccines to require them in the name of public health.”


“Let’s hope the Brazilians make the right decision to keep their children safe and unvaccinated for COVID-19,” McCullough said.


Brazil proposes school vaccination program


Concurrently with the Brazilian government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for young children, the government may also introduce a national vaccination program in schools.


Bill No. 826/2019 was approved Nov. 29 by the Senate’s Committee on Social Affairs and is now being analyzed by the Educational Commission, “which will be responsible for the final decision,” the Brazilian Senate’s news service reported.


According to the Senate, the “program will be intended primarily for students of early childhood education and elementary school … Public or public institutions, from early childhood education and elementary school, [would be] obliged to join the program,” while it is optional for private schools.


This is similar to a nationwide school vaccination campaign in France focusing on the administration of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Public schools are required to participate in the program, but participation is optional for private schools.


In late October, a 12-year-old boy died days after he collapsed and hit his head on the floor minutes after receiving the HPV vaccine at his school. Critics, including some medical experts, have said that school settings are inappropriate and unsafe for medical interventions such as vaccination.


Critics of the proposed program argued that “the measure would represent a violation of parental autonomy, could lead to discrimination against unvaccinated students, as well as result in school dropout,” and that children might be subjected to “constraining and embarrassing situations” and possible data breaches, according to the Brazilian Senate.


Agência Brasil reported that the proposed program will begin alongside the start of the nationwide flu vaccine campaign and will include other “routine” vaccinations. “Students without a vaccination card will receive a new one at the time of vaccination.”


According to Estadão, the proposed bill states that students who do not participate in the school vaccination program would be reported to Brazilian authorities.


“Five days after vaccination in the school unit, education professionals must send to the health unit a list with all students who did not receive the vaccination” along with “the address and information” of their parents or guardians.


“If they do not present themselves in the health unit within 30 days of the statement, health professionals should pay a visit to the student’s home in order to raise awareness about the importance of being up-to-date with the vaccination,” Estadão added.


Kory urged parents to do whatever they can to oppose the mandate for their children.


“Given what we now know about the harm the COVID-19 vaccines have caused, mandating them for anyone, especially all children, does little for public health while further eroding what trust the public might still have in their government health agencies,” Kory said. “I encourage them to talk to their child’s doctor and find out what options they have for getting an exemption from the vaccination.”


“By mandating the vaccine, the Brazilian government is undermining what little credibility and trust they might have with the public,” Kory added. “There is no need to vaccinate healthy children for COVID-19, to force the vaccine on this on the public goes against everything we are trained to do as physicians.”

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