Health regulators respond to Bolsonaro on vaccines for children debate

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The board of Brazil’s federal health regulator Anvisa responded to attacks made against the agency by President Jair Bolsonaro. Disgruntled by Anvisa’s decision to greenlight Covid shots for children aged 5 to 11, he used a weekly Facebook live broadcast to threaten that he would “reveal the names of the people” who approved vaccination for children.

Today, five Anvisa board members signed a statement saying the agency “vehemently repeals any threat, explicit or otherwise, seeking to intimidate or compromise” its work. Earlier today, a union of Anvisa civil servants bashed Mr. Bolsonaro’s words, saying his “overtly fascist methods can have tragic and violent results.” 

Last month, members of the agency received death threats from allegedly disgruntled anti-vax parents.

To please the president, the Health Ministry said it will hold public hearings to debate the matter of issuing Covid vaccines to children, essentially delaying the immunization of 70 million Brazilians aged 5 to 11. Authorities in the state of São Paulo, meanwhile, plan to purchase the pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine directly from the manufacturer.