The Supreme Court of Brazil on Friday authorized public universities to require proof of anticovid vaccination from students who want to return to face-to-face classes in 2022, a day after the Government of Jair Bolsonaro prohibited such possibility by decree.
The authorization was granted by magistrate Ricardo Lewadowski, one of the eleven members of the Federal Supreme Court, in precautionary measure that he granted in response to an appeal filed by opposition parties, and represents a new setback for Bolsonaro, leader of the Brazilian far-right denier and one of the most skeptical rulers about the seriousness of the pandemic.
The judicial measure provisionally suspends the decree published on Thursday by the Ministry of Education and that prohibited educational institutions linked to the federal government, mostly universities, from requiring their students to be vaccinated against covid-19.
The magistrate argued in his precautionary statement that the Brazilian public universities are guaranteed by law their autonomy and can decide whether or not to require the student’s vaccination certificate.
The decision, therefore, does not apply to colleges and technical institutes also linked to the federal government, which lack the same autonomy.
“I defer the emergency tutelage to determine the immediate suspension of the decree of the Ministry of Education, which prohibits the requirement of vaccination against covid as a condition for the return to face-to-face academic activities”, according to the Lewandowski ruling.
The next school year will begin at the end of January and, according to all forecasts, the classes will be totally face-to-face, after having operated remotely or mixed since March 2020, when a pandemic that has already killed more than 619,000 Brazilians arrived in the country. and infected about 22.3 million.
The decree of the Ministry of Education was a reflection of Bolsonaro’s resistance to childhood immunization.
On December 16, the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), in its role as regulator of the sector, approved the pediatric vaccine from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and recommended that it be applied to children between five and eleven years old.
The authorization of the regulatory body suffered fierce resistance from Bolsonaro, who also opposes the use of masks and other prevention measures and even maintains a firm campaign against vaccines, to the point that he has insisted that he will not allow his 11-year-old daughter get vaccinated.
The Government has not yet decided whether it will accept Anvisa’s recommendation on children, but has opened a “public consultation” so that any interested party, regardless of their scientific knowledge, can give their opinion on the matter.
According to the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, the decision will be made after that consultation and could be to release vaccination for children, but only with the consent of their parents and a “medical prescription.”
Most of the country’s regional health secretariats have already warned that, regardless of what the Ministry of Health decides, they will not require a medical prescription to vaccinate children under 12 years of age.