The unjustified and politicized battle against vaccination of children and adolescents in Brazil

por Paulo Ricardo Martins-Filho, Lorena G. Barberia

Facing the dynamic and complex scenario of the COVID-19 outbreak, countries worldwide are expanding COVID-19 vaccination programs to include young children. Despite hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19 in pediatric populations being less common, the disease has emerged as a novel cause of mortality for children and adolescents in poor communities.1 In Brazil, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (ComiRNAty) was authorized by the federal health regulator (ANVISA) for adolescents aged 12–17 years on June 11, 2021, six months after the beginning of the national vaccination campaign. Still, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga announced on September 16 the intent to halt COVID-19 vaccination for adolescents with no underlying conditions due to a death under investigation and concerns regarding adverse events in this age group, even though more than 3.5 million teens had already been immunized. Despite the doubts raised by President Bolsonaro and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, multiple randomised, controlled clinical studies and surveillance programs have supported vaccine safety for children and adolescents. Fortunately, the immunization of this age group was only temporarily halted and has progressed since then, and at least 25% have already received two doses.

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