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Brazil’s parents want their kids vaccinated against Covid. Bolsonaro has tried to stop it

Manuela had a fever that reached 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), spots throughout her pores and skin and a lump rising out of her neck. Her kidneys did not operate for practically two days. “Her heart almost stopped,” Basto mentioned.

Manuela recovered from Covid, however its uncomfortable side effects have left an enduring impression on her coronary heart: She now has arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat.

“It is so horrible. She was a healthy child, with no underlying conditions,” Basto mentioned.

Manuela survived Covid. But a whole lot of different kids in Brazil have not.

Between March 2020 and November 2021, 308 kids aged between 5 and 11 have died from Covid-19, in accordance to information from the Ministry of Health.

Pediatrician and infectious illness specialist Marcelo Otsuka advised CNN that Covid has killed extra kids than meningitis and measles in the identical interval, solely trailing behind deaths from highway accidents.

Now, as a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination marketing campaign for youngsters aged 5-11 is underway, it’s offering reduction to many Brazilian parents like Basto, who says that it will give her a “peace of mind.”

The rollout started on Monday, and with faculties again in session from February, many parents really feel the identical manner.

A nationwide survey from the Datafolha Institute launched on Monday revealed that 79% of respondents assist vaccinating kids in that age group. (The survey was performed by cellphone on January 12 and 13 amongst 2,023 individuals aged 16 and older.)

But the vaccine could not come quick sufficient for some parents, who’ve been ready practically a month to take their kids to get the shot.

The motive? Mainly Brazil’s personal President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro, who says he’s unvaccinated, has been extensively criticized at dwelling and overseas for taking part in down the severity of the virus, together with discouraging others to get vaccinated, regardless of Brazil battling one of many worst coronavirus outbreaks on this planet.

The president’s opposition to youngster vaccination is the newest instalment on this campaign.

On December 16, Brazil’s regulatory company Anvisa inexperienced lit the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for youngsters. That identical day, Bolsonaro known as the choice “unbelievable,” and threatened to launch the names of Anvisa workers concerned within the determination.

Congresswoman Bia Kicis, a loyal Bolsonaro supporter who additionally has discredited youngster vaccinations on social media, later revealed these names to a WhatsApp group of Bolsonaro supporters. Kicis justified her actions, saying she thought the paperwork have been public in a listening to on the problem earlier this month.

Congresswoman Bia Kicis speaks at a Bolsonaro rally last August.

And simply days earlier than the rollout received underway, Bolsonaro falsely claimed in an interview to TV Nova Nordeste that no kids have died of Covid, earlier than later saying in the identical interview that “some children must have died, but they must have some comorbidity.”

Perhaps these phrases come as no shock: Last June, whereas talking at an occasion, an unmasked Bolsonaro requested a baby to take away her masks, and in addition took off one other kid’s masks.

His actions are a slap within the face for the a whole lot of parents nonetheless grieving the loss of their kids — and to Manuela’s mom, Basto, who was fearing the worst.
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Bolsonaro has additionally mentioned that he is not going to vaccinate his 11-year-old daughter, saying that “children have not been dying in a way that justifies a vaccine.”

However, “these vaccines offer really good protection, with even greater protection to children than to adults, and with excellent safety,” pediatrician and infectious illness professional Dr. Marcelo Otsuka advised CNN.

“All studies suggest that vaccines are safe and have very good efficiency for the 5-11 age group,” he mentioned.

Otsuka cited information from the US, saying: “When you analyze data from the 7 million doses given in the US to this age group there were no adverse effects reported that should make us concerned.”

But Bolsonaro and his administration are largely undeterred by scientific proof, with their rhetoric as a substitute delaying the rollout.

A ‘paradox’

Esther Solano, professor of worldwide relations at Sao Paulo University, advised CNN that Bolsonaro’s messaging round vaccines for youngsters is a part of his long-term political technique.

When the rollout was permitted, Solano mentioned that it offered a “paradox” for the Brazilian chief, who has been denying the effectiveness of vaccines.

“He has to follow his strategy, as he cannot change the speech and adopt a favorable one for the children,” Solano mentioned.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks about the vaccine rollout in Brasilia last March.

Bolsonaro’s anti-vaccine rhetoric is just not essentially aimed to stop Brazilian kids from getting the shot, Solano added, however fairly a part of his lengthy standing marketing campaign to recruit and play up to his far-right base forward of the October 2022 elections.

“Bolsonaro is mobilizing his radical supporters in thinking about the next elections,” Solano mentioned.

Bolsonaro and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga additionally proposed a interval of public session earlier than rolling out the pictures and that parents current a medical prescription to get their kids vaccinated.

While these proposals did not cross — it did stall the rollout.

Brazil is now beginning the method a lot later than many different Latin American nations — together with Cuba, Chile and Argentina, whose youngster vaccine campaigns have been operating for months.
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And Queiroga hasn’t stopped his makes an attempt to undermine their efficacy. This week, he falsely claimed that 1000’s of individuals had died from adversarial reactions brought on by the vaccines, immediately contradicting his authorities’s personal information. He later mentioned that these feedback have been taken out of context by the media.

It’s exhausting to know what Bolsonaro and his allies will profit from railing against youngster vaccination, given public assist largely backs them — particularly in an election 12 months the place the playing cards may very well be stacking against him.

Political scientist Camila Rocha advised CNN that Bolsonaro’s “aim is to unify and mobilize his core supporters (around 20% of voters) around a new controversy — as well as diverting attention from other subjects that can be uncomfortable.”

For Bolsonaro’s supporters, the kid vaccination problem will not have an effect on their assist, Rocha mentioned.

“It could have negative consequences among people who voted for Bolsonaro and are disappointed with his governments and his attitudes during the pandemic — especially women and young people,” she added.

For Basto, Bolsonaro misplaced her belief a very long time in the past. She has seen what Covid has finished to the nation and to her youngster.

“He is a crazy denialist, what can you say? It is unbelievable that a president would have such attitudes,” she mentioned.

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