Brazil’s Supreme Court Declares Covid-19 Vaccine Mandatory | Society

A nurse has an experimental Sinovac vaccine at the hospital in Sao Lucas, Brazil.
A nurse has an experimental Sinovac vaccine at the hospital in Sao Lucas, Brazil.DIEGO VARA / REUTERS

Brazil’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that vaccination against Covid-19 is mandatory in the country. By ten votes to one, the judges understood that the population cannot be forced to be vaccinated, but that the individual decision of each person does not take precedence over collective health. In practice, this means that anyone who refuses to be immunized can be punished by the federal government, states and municipalities. Restrictions can include, for example, a ban on boarding a means of transport or visiting public areas. The Supreme Court ruling is a defeat for President Jair Bolsonaro, who has publicly stated on several occasions that he is against mandatory vaccination.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro said during an interview that the vaccine will not be administered. “If anyone thinks my life is in danger, it’s my problem, and it is,” he warned. According to Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, Bolsonaro will also not participate in campaigns to encourage the population to get vaccinated against Covid-19. “Whether the president is a volunteer or not, I think it’s the same approach: it reinforces the voluntariness, not the obligation. It is a vision, ”said Minister Pazuello during a session in the Senate on Thursday.

The president has also promoted people who receive the vaccine to sign a consent form. However, House Speaker Rodrigo Maia said he will not include that proposal in the vote authorizing Brazil to join the global consortium led by the World Health Organization to provide access to vaccines at lower prices. . Maia also called Bolsonaro’s decision not to be vaccinated “regrettable”. As they fight for the issue, thousands of Brazilians have been infected and hundreds are dying. You are dealing irresponsibly with such a serious matter. But I trust that he will understand his role, will not wage an ideological war and will respond to the wishes of Brazilian society, ”the politician criticized.

The opposition has already celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision. Former Health Minister and Deputy Alexandre Padilha (Workers’ Party) emphasized that the vaccine is not individual but collective protection. “Those who are vaccinated protect themselves, their parents, their children, their colleagues, their peers,” he said on Twitter. Federal Deputy Marcelo Freixo felt the decision was important after Bolsonaro publicly criticized the vaccine. “We will only win the covid-19 if we fight together and think about each other. Taking care of yourself is taking care of everyone, ”said the deputy of the left-wing PSOL.

The Supreme Court ruling was the result of two lawsuits brought by political parties. In the first, ministers were asked whether states and municipalities had the authority to enact mandatory vaccination during the pandemic. In the second case, the PTB, a party associated with Bolsonaro, asked the Supreme Court to declare mandatory vaccination unconstitutional. The jury decided to confirm the first thesis and rejected the second. A third action on the subject was also tried, asking whether the state could force parents to vaccinate their children despite philosophical, religious, moral and existential objections. In this case too, the decision favored the vaccination obligation.

For example, during the trial, Supreme Court ministers recalled the requirement to vote, whereby the voter is not forced to go to the polls but can face sanctions if he fails to comply.

Rapid import of vaccines

The Court also ruled that mayors and governors can import vaccines directly in the event that the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) does not approve the use of trademarks already registered in international regulatory agencies within 72 hours. Vaccines approved by at least one of the statutory health organizations – from the European Union, the United States, Japan, or China – and distributed commercially in the respective countries can be purchased by local managers if the plan is not executed. national vaccination or “timely and adequate immunological coverage against the disease is not provided”. The decision comes amid criticism of Bolsonaro’s alleged interference in the Anvisa agency.

Despite the criticism it has received, Minister Pazuello said Brazil is leading the world with its vaccination plan, even ahead of countries like the United Kingdom, United States and Russia, which have already started their national programs. Brazil could receive 24.7 million doses of vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinovac in January, according to the minister, if these immunizers receive approval from Anvisa and the laboratories meet the delivery schedule.

So far, the government has only signed one contract with AstraZeneca. Given the three vaccines, Brazil predicts 93.4 million doses in March, which would mean just over 42 million people would be vaccinated, taking into account the need for two doses per person and the losses from potential logistical issues. “We are not being run over, we are leading the way,” said Pazuello, a day after he officially presented Brazil’s operational vaccination plan. The document is about the acquisition of the Chinese vaccine, rejected by Bolsonaro.