Brazil’s supreme court says coronavirus vaccination can be made mandatory, delivering a blow to the nation’s nascent anti-vaccine movement.
But the court also ruled Brazilians may not be vaccinated against their will.
A court statement says Thursday’s ruling does pave the way for state and municipal governments to approve laws imposing fines or restrictive measures for anyone refusing to take a vaccine.
President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he will not take any vaccine and opposes mandatory immunisation. He has also sown scepticism about potential side effects.
Opinion polls have indicated a growing resistance to vaccination, with about one-fifth of Brazilians surveyed by pollster Datafolha this month saying they do not intend to get a shot.
Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa has yet to approve any shot for mass immunisation.
Should Brazil choose to vaccine its population, as it stands they have options: Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech are currently the first vaccines approved.
AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced their jab is effective in preventing many people getting ill and it has been shown to work in different age groups, including the elderly.
Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said: “The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by (Covid-19).
“We will continue to work to provide the detailed information to regulators. It has been a privilege to be part of this multi-national effort which will reap benefits for the whole world.”