There is some confusion this week following the announcement by DGS health director Graça Freitas that healthy children from the ages of 12 upwards do not, for the time being, require vaccination against Covid-19.
Some parents and schools have reacted in dismay, saying they wanted their children vaccinated as they feel this will confer a greater degree of safety all round.
President Marcelo has stepped into the debate, saying ‘of course, any parent who would rather see their children vaccinated has every right to request the shots’.
Explains Público, the DGS decision does not stop parents going to their family doctor and requesting ‘authorisation’ (in the form of a medical prescription) that their child or children can be vaccinated.
While it has been repeatedly explained that the fully-vaccinated are still able to contract the virus and spread it, guidance from prime minister António Costa – who has made no bones about the government’s desire to vaccinate all secondary school-age children – is that it offers “greater guarantee” against the worst effects of the virus.
The reason for DGS health advice not recommending Covid vaccines for the younger generation for the time being is that there is still no data to show if benefits outweigh the potential risks, given that children tend not to suffer adverse consequences from SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The brouhaha that the DGS announcement last Friday caused has seen João Cotrim de Figueiredo, leader of Iniciativa Liberal, and himself a father of four, criticise authorities for their “lack of coordination”.
He told an event in Gondomar (to present candidates for the upcoming municipal elections): “We should not be asking young people to be vaccinated to protect society because we don’t know the long-term side effects. Society cannot demand a collective sacrifice from any of its members without knowing exactly what it is doing”.
It hasn’t helped that the DGS list of ‘serious illnesses’ that qualify children for vaccination has still not been published.
UPDATE: Since this story went online, the Resident has been made aware of a peer-reviewed study which concludes that the hypothetical benefits to adults of vaccinating healthy children do not outweigh the risks the children will be running (click here)