- BBC World News
In Brazil, no one will be forced to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, but not doing so may have consequences.
The Supreme Court of the South American country almost unanimously endorsed the mandatory nature of vaccination and that national, state and local authorities can sanction to the citizens who decide not to be immunized.
Among the “indirect measures”, exemplified a minister, the local authorities could prohibit the entrance to restaurants if they do not have a card as a means of proof.
The ruling was rejected by the president Jair Bolsonaro, who said that his government will not take coercive measures: “This is not Venezuela, it is not Cuba,” he said.
“I am not going to force you to get the vaccine because I am responsible,” he said in a video on social media this Thursday.
In its reasoning, the Supreme Court equated its decision with the right to vote, since Brazilians are obliged to exercise it.
But if they do not justify their absence, they receive a financial fine and even penalties for their rights, such as the impossibility of renewing their passport, among other measures.
The authorities could adopt sanctions in the case of the vaccine against covid-19, but no one will be physically forced to take it.
“No one will drag anyone by the hair so that it is vaccinated “, said the president of the Supreme, Luiz Fux.
Why this decision?
Brazil is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, with 7.1 million cases confirmed (third place in the world) and more than 184,000 deaths (second place in the world).
Vaccination is one of the hopes to contain the pandemic and its application has been the subject of intense political debate in recent weeks.
When speaking, 10 of the 11 ministers considered it necessary to empower the authorities to encourage immunization, including the application of sanctions.
The investigating judge, Ricardo Lewandowski, held that although forced vaccination is “flagrantly unconstitutional,” collective health “it cannot be harmed by people who deliberately refuse to be vaccinated. “
Judge Luis Roberto Barroso supported the proposal, stating that “vaccination is important for the protection of the entire society, not being legitimate individual decisions that seriously affect the rights of third parties.”
However, Kassio Nunes Marques – a judge appointed this year by Bolsonaro – affirmed that mandatory vaccination should be the “last measure” to take on in the fight against the pandemic once “all the less burdensome forms of intervention have been exhausted.” He was the only one who spoke out against the ruling.
In turn, Judge Alexandre de Moraes argued that the discussion of the issue does not allow “hypocrisy, demagoguery, ideologies, obscurantism, political-electoral disputes and, above all, does not allow ignorance.”
“It is possible that at the municipal level it is established that entrance to shopping centers and restaurants It must be by presenting a vaccination card. We are fighting a pandemic, a pandemic that kills people, “Moraes said.
There are certain conditions that the Supreme Court established for the vaccine to be mandatory.
One is that it be implemented “based on scientific evidence and relevant strategic analysis. “Another is that it is accompanied by” extensive information on efficacy, safety and contraindications of immunizers. ”
Furthermore, this process must respect “the dignity of the human person and the fundamental rights of persons”, as well as meet the criteria of “being reasonable and proportional”. It must also be universal and free.
In the same sentence, the judges unanimously confirmed that parents are obliged to vaccinate their children in accordance with the national immunization plan or other forms provided by law, or those considered essential based on scientific consensus.
The discussion about the application of vaccines has generated controversy in Brazilian society, mainly between local authorities who call for generalized immunization and the president who opposes it.
Known for his skepticism about the severity of the covid-19 (which he already suffered), Bolsonaro criticized the Supreme Court ruling on the application of the vaccine, as considered that receiving it is the responsibility of each person.
The president said last Tuesday that, as far as he is concerned, he will not take the vaccine: “If someone thinks my life is at risk, the problem is mine and that’s it.”
Since October, he affirmed in his social networks that vaccines are only mandatory for dogs at home.
Brazil -with more than 200 million inhabitants- it expects to have 37.7 million doses of vaccines in February. The next month otherOs 31 million dose, reported Thursday the Ministry of Health, Eduardo Pazuello.
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