Brazil have commenced vaccinating children aged five to 11 against Covid-19 on Friday after the move was approved, despite objections from President Jair Bolsonaro.
Davi Seremramiwe Xavante, who is an Indigenous eight-year-old boy, was the first child to be vaccinated during an official ceremony at a Sao Paulo hospital, with the state governor Joao Doria in attendance.
The new age group was approved for vaccination by Anvisa health authorities a month ago. More than 20 million children are eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, provided they have parental consent. Indigenous people and children with underlying conditions are priority groups for vaccination.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly criticized the move and has insisted he would never vaccinate his 11-year-old daughter, Laura. Bolsonaro has reportedly demanded that the names of the people who sanctioned this move are made public. Bolsonaro himself is not vaccinated.
An association representing Anvisa officials hit out at Bolsonaro’s “fascist methods,” and the authority’s president insisted on police protection for staff following reported threats.
According to official health ministry figures, more than 300 children aged five to 11 have died from Covid-19 in Brazil, among a total of 620,000 deaths from the disease in the country with a population of 213 million.
The number of new cases has spiked since the emergence of the Omicron variant in late November. On Friday, Brazil reported 112,286 new cases in 24 hours, a figure close to the record of 115,228 daily registered June 23, when the country was in the midst of the third wave of the pandemic.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: SF CHRONICLE