Press reports which went viral Monday said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was entertaining the idea of signing an administrative decision whereby only the Federal Government would have the authority to decide on a mandatory vaccination against COVID-19.
According to the website Poder360, the head of state has insisted the vaccine was optional and criticized mayors and governors for turning it into a requirement for access to certain public places (such as cinemas, theatres, gyms and restaurants) using a so-called health pass.
Although a 2020 law authorizes the federal government to take measures to contain a pandemic, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) has ruled that States and City Councils Municipalities could adopt the sanitary measures they deemed appropriate.
A Bolsonaro decree would immediately modify this law, interfering with the autonomy of local authorities, pending Congressional and Judicial reviews. About 20 of the 27 Brazilian provincial capitals require a vaccination pass to participate in certain events of everyday life.
Bolsonaro had insisted last week his Government did not plan to implement the so-called health passport, since freedom is above all else and each citizen can decide whether or not to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The harsh measure had been demanded by scientific advisers after the first cases of the omicron variant.
The head of state insisted society needed to understand that the virus will be forever and that vaccines, some of them still experimental, still entailed unknown effects in the long run. Bolsonaro also quoted a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) warning that those fully vaccinated can be contaminated and transmit the virus and can also die, to justify his decision not to impose a mandatory immunization, although the Government had purchased enough doses for all those who wished to take the treatments.
No one can be threatened with losing rights or being fired for not getting vaccinated because freedom is priceless, Bolsonaro has maintained against the opinion of sanitary experts.