The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has sent a letter of support to Uruguay's Health Minister Daniel Salinas after a judge ordered all vaccination of children under 13 years of age against COVID-19 be halted in the country.
The letter, signed by PAHO Director Carissa Etienne, whom Salinas hopes to succeed, goes as follows:
We understand that the Ministry of Health in your charge has decided to abide by the court ruling and will be promoting the appeal of the sentence. From this moment on, we offer you, should you deem it useful, the support you require from PAHO/WHO in the construction of the necessary arguments, the letter states.
The note also underlines that the vaccine from the U.S. laboratory Pfizer, which was applied to minors in Uruguay, is safe and effective for all persons over 5 years of age.
The non-use of safe and effective vaccines in children can generate a profound inequity and deprivation of the human right to health, the letter further explains while insisting that vaccines save lives and are, after drinking water, the tool that has contributed the most to the prevention of serious and deadly diseases, particularly in young children.
The Uruguayan Government Monday filed an appeal against the ruling by Judge Alejandro Recarey that forced the suspension of vaccination against COVID-19 until a series of requirements set forth by the magistrate are met.
The judge ordered the Ministry of Public Health (MSP) and the Presidency to disclose in full all the purchase contracts of the vaccines administered nationwide, be them from the Chinese laboratory Sinovac, the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca and the US pharmaceutical supplier Pfizer.
Recarey also requested that an advisory text be given to the adults responsible for the minors to be vaccinated, clearly mentioning the composition of the vaccines and the risks involved.
Salinas said in a TV interview he found it proper to inform international organizations about the current situation of vaccination in Uruguay. Hence, Etienne's response underlining the recommendations of the World Health Organization's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization which stipulates that the Pfizer-BioNTech messenger RNA vaccine is safe and effective for all persons over 5 years of age.
Etienne further argued that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been included in the WHO Emergency Uses List, a risk-based procedure for evaluating and listing unlicensed vaccines, therapies and in vitro diagnostics with the ultimate goal of accelerating the availability of these products to people affected by a public health emergency such as the one still being faced, which allows PAHO/WHO Member States and their National Regulatory Agencies to formulate their sovereign health policies and can expedite regulatory authorization to import and administer vaccines against COVID-19.
The right to health is undoubtedly essential to the well-being and wealth of nations, which is protected by international treaties to which Uruguay is a party, she added. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports this assertion.