After a month and a half of office, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, declared Sunday that he will no longer receive the vaccinations recommended for students in a new law that calls for compulsory immunization for all students, according to Reuters.
“I will not submit myself to shots, just as I will not submit myself to the law on Vaccination,” Bolsonaro, a veteran congressman, said during a speech. “I will sacrifice one’s own health for the good of the whole.”
A 2019 law requiring all Brazilians to be vaccinated against nine diseases applies to new students in school (beginning in February 2020). Requiring all students in school to be vaccinated is usually referred to as “vaccinate or else.” Bolsonaro’s statement on Sunday follows a decision by Brazil’s Health Ministry to suspend the inoculation of all health professionals against the flu following an outbreak of the virus that has spread in the country.
According to Reuters, the number of cases of the flu in Brazil tripled between January 1 and February 28, with 51 people suffering from complications, while 40 people have died due to the disease in that time period. The Health Ministry says that the decision to suspend health personnel vaccination was made based on “health emergency for the population.”
“It was aimed at protecting the common people,” Alcides Pambakin, health secretary of Brazil’s Health Ministry, told Agencia Brasil. “It’s very high. There is flu in all regions and for the whole population.”
A similar law was passed in 2013 when Brazil was suffering from the worst outbreak of dengue in recent memory. Government officials can suspend the inoculation of health professionals for up to three years, but the 30-day suspension in 2019 does not extend to doctors and nurses, according to The New York Times.
Bolsonaro’s controversial stance on vaccines hasn’t shied him from taking other controversial stances over the course of his political career. Bolsonaro once served as one of Brazil’s military juntas and has run in several elections on a platform that is influenced heavily by the type of Brazilian nationalism that is found in far-right movements around the world. His lawyer offered a public apology to women for referring to them as “bitches” while running for office, but he soon took that apology back.
Read the full story at Reuters.
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