Vaccination against Covid-19 will not be mandatory when a preventive drug arrives in Brazil, the Brazilian Health Ministry said on Wednesday, though it stressed that immunization would be essential for the country to defeat the virus.
"As we have been doing so far and will continue to do so, we encourage the vaccine to immunize the population. Otherwise, we may have the risk of returning diseases that had already been eradicated from the country as happened with measles recently," said Elcio Franco, the ministry's executive secretary.
"We also remember that the vaccine is not mandatory but it will be a great tool for us to return to normal."
Franco's statement confirms what President Jair Bolsonaro said Monday when responding to a supporter who asked him to ban Covid-19 vaccines.
"No one can oblige anyone to take a vaccine," Bolsonaro said. His statement was tweeted the following day by the Brazilian Government's Twitter account.
Vaccines in Brazil trials: There are three types of Covid-19 vaccines undergoing clinical trials in Brazil. One of them, from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca, has been conducted with the support of the Ministry of Health and in partnership with the public health federal research institute Fiocruz.
According to Franco, the public may have access to an Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine by January of next year.